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Happy St. Urho Day

 

In many places around the country, it’s said that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.  Well, if that’s the case, then the day before St. Patrick’s day everyone is Finnish because March 16th is St. Urho Day.

The story of St. Urho is a bit more obscure than that of St. Patrick, but none the less remarkable:

Grapes once grew in the area now known as Finland – (I know, grapes growing in the cold?  Remember this story happened in pre glacial times.)  It came to pass that the grape crop was threatened by a plague of grasshoppers.  That’s when the great Urho saved the crop by yelling, “Heinasirkka, heinasirkka, meme taalata hiiten.”  Roughly translated, that’s “Grasshopper, grasshopper go away.”

The hoppers apparently understood Finnish quite well, because they left in droves.  Ever since then, people of Finnish descent have honored St. Urho by dressing in purple and green on March 16th.  The purple represents the grapes.  The green – Nile green, not Kelly green – symbolizes the vines or grasshoppers, depending on whom you talk to.

Okay, now the rest of the story.  Most say the day was actually invented years ago by a professor at Bemidji State University who was just looking for a way to let his hair down after a long winter.

Believe what you will – but Happy St. Urho Day!

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