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….
St. Urho’s Day: March 16th.
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!
There is also this handy educational video about St. Urho:
Support this champion of biological control by drinking some purple wine or purple beer March 16th, in honor of St. Urho’s entomological feat.