Mid 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….mnmenurhoside2

St. Urho’s Day.

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!”). His feast is celebrated by wearing the colors Royal Purple and Nile Green. St. Urho is nearly always represented with grapes and grasshoppers as part of the picture…..

Today, the St. Urho tradition is carried on in many Finnish communities, sometimes as an excuse to add an extra day of rowdy celebration to the St. Patrick’s Day festivities. In many Finnish-American communities, however, St. Urho’s Day is the celebration, and St. Pat’s feast day is merely an afterthought, a day to sleep off the hangover.”

Urho’s victory over grasshoppers is celebrated by this statue in Menahga, MN. A very amazing chainsaw sculpture!

Support  this champion of biological control by drinking some purple wine or purple beer (Ew!) March 16th, in honor of St. Urho’s entomological feat.

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Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!

10 Comments

  1. but, but … why March 16th? I’m pretty sure that grasshoppers aren’t active in Finland in March, they don’t really get going till June-August, so either Urho did his stuff later in the year or he was a *very* good con-artist (“look, I have rid you of grasshoppers, and will do likewise every winter”). Or am I taking this a bit too literally?

  2. You’re taking it too literally. The whole point is to drink beer and wine. :D

  3. Many are the March 17th’s that I have spent fabulously hung over from drinking my favorite plum flavored St. Urho beer punch that wonderful day before. St. Urho day rocks my world. To hell with St. Patrick, a whimpy, girly, excuse for a saint, St. Urho could take him any day of the week!

  4. “The whole point is to drink beer and wine.”

    Oh good, I’ll do that instead of worrying about grasshopper phenology. :D:D

  5. That is one creepy statue. At first glance and without reading the article, it looked like Paul Bunyan skewering someone with a pitchfork.

  6. As a Soumalienen poika from out west, I can proudly say that “St. Urho ist ta poi fer me!”

  7. Thanks for spreading the Urho goodness. He’s got the best colors of any saint going. My patron saint of choice.

  8. You’re back!

    I’ll tip a glass in honor of St.Urho…nothing can be better than a made up saint :)

  9. I wore a royal purple shirt today to celebrate. No luck finding Finnish wine to have with dinner tonight.

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