Let’s Not Forget About St. Urho’s Day, Here’s How To Celebrate
Today is St. Urho's Day. Who's St. Urho? If you have to ask that question, then obviously you don't have any Finnish ancestry or Finnish friends. Legend goes that St. Urho drove the grasshoppers out of the grape crops in Finland, much like the more famous St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland.
There's similar ways to celebrate St. Urho's day. As my family is very Finnish (my dad's side are all 100% Finnish), we were accustomed to wear purple on March 16 every year and if we didn't we were allowed to be pinched. I don't know how well that plays out in modern times, but hey, that's what it was about.
How historically accurate is St. Urho's Day? Not really at all. In fact it's believed to have been stared by a Finnish-American businessman Richard Mattson. He worked at Ketola's department in Virginia and made up the holiday when coworker Gene McCavic joked that the Finns don't have a saint like St. Patrick. Together, they came up with the Ode To Saint Urho:
Ooksi kooksi coolama vee
Saint Urho is the boy for me!
He chased out the hoppers as big as birds
Never before have I heard those words!
He really told those bugs of green
Bravest Finn I ever seen
Some celebrate for St. Pat and his snakes
But Urho poika (boy) got what it takes
He got strong and tall from viili sour
And ate kalamojakka (fish soup) every hour
That's why that guy could chase those beetles
What grew as thick as jack pine needles
So lets give a cheer in our best way
On the sixteenth of March, St. Urho's Day.
How can you celebrate St. Urho's day locally? You could head up to Finland, Minnesota this weekend for the 46th annual celebration. They have a parade on Saturday at Noon. They'll also have a tug of war contest over the Baptism River on Saturday. They'll also do a Virtual Ms. Helmi on their Facebook page on Friday Night. You can find the full list of the events in Finland on their website. They ask that people attending this year avoid gathering large groups and wear masks.