March 17 is well known across America and other countries as St. Patrick’s Day–the day where the patron saint of Ireland drove the snakes out. However, the day preceding St. Patrick’s Day is St. Urho’s Day.
Much like St. Patrick’s Day, St. Urho’s Day honors and recognizes the patron saint of Finland, a man who drove the grasshoppers out of Finland in order to protect the wine vineyards and the farmers jobs from the pesky creatures that aimed to eat all their crops.
According to nationaltoday.com, St. Urho is, “In all possibilities… a fictional character, yet the tales about him are just as fascinating.”
National Today states that St. Urho’s day is a lighthearted celebration that gears up revelers for all the partying and drinking of St. Patrick’s Day, “This is the day to let down your hair and get ready for the forthcoming celebrations,” The article reads.
The history of this fantastical hero is unique to Finland. As legends tell, the saint chased the grasshoppers out of Finland while shouting, “Grasshoppers, Grasshoppers, go to hell!” This was to save the vineyard crops. Thanks to this noble deed, he has become a hero. This is very similar to the more well known story of St. Patrick’s Day, where St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland.
National Today states that, “You will find statues of St. Urho, one such in Minnesota, depicting him holding large grasshoppers in honor of his sacrifice.”
According to the site, people wear purple and green on this day to celebrate by drinking wine and reciting this unusual story.
What makes this story so unusual, is the fact that St. Urho never existed. He was born of pure fascination and humor. Where this story originated from is debated among Minnesotans.
According to sainturho.com, the story could have come from one of two people, “Sulo Havumaki of Bemidji, or the tongue-in-cheek tales told by Richard Mattson of Virgina.”
Either way, the legend of St. Urho has spread its fabled tendrils across North America, being celebrated in the United States, Canada, and even in Finland.
Saint Urho has been recognized with proclamations in all 50 states. In 1975, Minnesota Governor, Wendell Anderson, even issued a proclamation that Minnesota is the unofficial home of Saint Urho.
In celebration of St. Urho’s Day, Finlayson Municipal Liquor will be having a potluck and meat raffle at 6 p.m.
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