March 16 is Saint Urho's Day

What do grasshoppers, grapes, and Finns have to do with one another?

Many decades ago a Finnish-American in Minnesota, named Richard Mattson, was working at Ketola’s Department Store in Virginia, Minnesota. It was here that a piece of Finnish-American folklore found its beginnings.

Richard’s coworker, Gene McCavic had a lot of questions. He began to badger Richard, asking “Why do the Finnish not have a an equivalent to the Irish Saint Patrick?”

Factually, there is Saint Henry, the Bishop of Finland. However, it turns out that Richard decided to create his own holiday. And that’s something we can respect! Being the creators of Plaiduray and 906 Day, it feels as though Richard Mattson is a kindred spirit, not to mention our love of April Fool’s Day.

As legend had it, Saint Urho came and scared off all the grasshoppers, and saved the grape harvest. He did so by shouting, “Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen.”

Translation: “Grasshopper, grasshopper, go to Hell!”

One story even gives credit to an Upper Peninsula high school teacher during the 1950s. Regardless, our strong Finnish heritage gives us good reason to start drinking a green beer one day ahead of Saint Patrick’s Day. The official colors of St. Urho’s Day? Purple and green. So if you find a purple beer, let us know.

Coincidentally, it’s not a very popular holiday in Finland. Though students at University of Turku have organized a St. Urho’s Day play yearly since 1987.

Ode to Saint Urho

by Gene McCavic and Richard Mattson
Virginia, Minnesota

Ooksi kooksi coolama vee
Santia Urho is ta poy for me!
He sase out ta hoppers as pig as pirds.
Neffer peefor haff I hurd tose words!

He reely tolt tose pugs of kreen
Braffest Finn I effer seen
Some celebrate for St. Pat unt hiss nakes
Putt Urho poyka kot what it takes.

He kot tall and trong from feelia sour
Unt ate kala moyakka effery hour.
Tat’s why tat kuy could sase toes peetles
What krew as thick as chack bine neetles.

So let’s give a cheer in hower pest vay
On Sixteenth of March, St. Urho’s Tay.

Learn more about Saint Urho’s day at sainturho.com

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