What’s the origin of Hiiumaa handmade soap names?

People in Hiiumaa have always enjoyed an amusing game: they have tried to classify themselves into societies with funny names.

The societies are mostly related to specific locations or regions in Hiiumaa. The slightly teasing names characterise their members. They refer to occupation or activities of the people and highlight the peculiarities of each particular region.

The characteristic features of the societies are reflected in the contents and names of Hiiumaa handmade soaps.

Let’s have a look at the origin of the following names:


Kohvilähkrid - Coffee Kegs. Kärdla is a town known by excessive coffee drinking.

In 1829 a textile factory was established in Kärdla. As a result the town people acquired a somewhat specific social status compared with the others. The workers had a shorter working day, their purse, however, became heavier. Women had no need to work outside the household. They had more money to buy coffee as well as time to sit back and enjoy it. These were the two reasons why Kärdla people took to coffee drinking. The life, tempered with luxury and idleness, brought about bitter resentment and envy in the surrounding villages. Kärdla people were referred to as kegs full of coffee. The factory people had become so priggish, indeed, that they felt ashamed of mixing with their village companions. They would even stand sideways while talking to them!

Kohvilähkri - Coffee Kegs soap

Tõrvakõplased -  Kõpu Tar Makers are people who live in Kõpu Peninsula (‘kõplased’) where sand dunes are covered with extremely resinous and tarry pine trees. The tar from the pines was of the highest quality. It was greatly valued in Hiiumaa and in high demand in neighbouring islands, too. The benefit, free and direct from Mother Nature was taken good advantage of by the people of Kõpu. In return they were given a well deserved name of "tõrvakõplane", i.e. a man from Kõpu whose wellbeing greatly depended on pine tar.

Tõrvakõplase - Kõpu Tar Makers soap

Odratolgused - John Barleycorn were inhabitants of Käina and the surroundings. The land around Käina was fertile and the barley crops good. Why not brew beer then and drink it to the loss of senses! Nowadays they mostly grow carrots in Käina fields.

Odratolguse - John Barleycorn soap

Mud Islanders (Mudajunlase) soap


Early bird  (Varatõusjad)– an islander whose house was far from timber forests and hayfields and who had to get up early to be at work in time.


Early bird (Varatõusja) soap

Pätakavallamehed  - People who wore soft shoes of cloth are the people from Pühalepa county and Suuremõisa. They were usually rather short of money. In hauling logs from the forests they carried specific footwear called ‘pätid‘ or ‘pätakad’. These were socks with leather sole. The upper part was knitted or sewn from woollen fabric. The name therefore appears to be fully suitable and justified. Moreover, it is generally known that in cold winter weather the pätaka-socks were warmer than leather boots that other Hiiumaa men were proudly wearing.