Happy St. Urho’s Day, 2013!

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mnmenurhoside2Mid-March! A time when the US turns its attention to an important event–a type of March Madness, if you will. People stock up on food, buy special t-shirts, and drink alcoholic libations in mass quantities.  It’s….

St. Urho’s Day: March 16th.

From his website:

“As the legend goes, St. Urho drove the grasshoppers out of Finland, saving the country’s grape harvest – and thus its wine crop. While this may have striking similarities to the story of an Irish saint who shall remain nameless, it’s clearly superior in a few key ways:

  • St. Urho’s Day is celebrated on March 16th – before, and therefore superior to, anything that one might celebrate on March 17th.
  • St. Urho saved grapes, ensuring abundance of wine. What could be more important to celebrate than wine? I mean really.
  • St. Urho’s colors are royal purple and nile green – two colors, not one. Take that.”

To celebrate, Finnish-American towns hold parades, pancake breakfasts, spaghetti dinners, cribbage tournaments, and all sorts of other celebrations. Attendees are decked out in purple and green, surrounded by images of grasshoppers and grapes.”

St. Urho (pronounced “oorho”) is a completely made-up saint. Essentially, Finnish Minnesotans were sick of green beer and Irish hoopla in March, and decided they needed their own holiday on March 16th:

“The legend says St. Urho chased the grasshoppers out of ancient Finland, thus saving the grape crop and the jobs of Finnish vineyard workers. He did this by uttering the phrase: “Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen” (roughly translated: ‘Grasshopper, grasshopper, go to Hell!’).”

Urho’s victory over grasshoppers is celebrated by this statue in Menahga, MN. A very amazing chainsaw sculpture!  There also is a lovely giant grasshopper sculpture in Kaleva, Michigan.  Will I be making a detour to see that soon? Ya, you betcha.

Support this champion of biological control by drinking some purple wine or purple beer March 16th, in honor of St. Urho’s entomological feat.  Here’s a list of St. Urho Celebrations you can attend.

Lastly, a this handy educational video about St. Urho:

And a recipe for a traditional Finnish Stew (which contains no grasshoppers, alas).

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