St. Urho's day is celebrated on March 16. He is considered the patron saint of Finnish immigrants. Although, there are quite a few stories as to how he was created (for he is indeed imaginary), all agree it is a pretty good excuse to party, whether or not you are Finnish.

Allegdly, St. Urho was brought into existance by Richard Mattson at a St. Patrick's Day party in 1956. Mattson lived in Virginia, Minnesota and being Finnish wished to top his Irish's friends' St. Patrick. A friend of his, Gene McCavic, wrote an ode to St. Urho that night. Their story says St. Urho drove poisonous frogs out of Finland. The frogs were destoying Finland's grape crop. I think it is probably needless to point out grapes do not grow in Finlnad and this story was thought up in a bar.

Others give credit to Dr. Sulo Havumäki. His story says that St. Urho drove the grasshoppers out of Finland, not frogs.

Either way all agree that Urho Kekkonen becoming the President of Finland in 1956 helped to spread the word about this saint.

A statue of St. Urho may be seen in Menahga, Minnesota, and has the following ode engraved on the statue, written by Sulo Havumaki. A picture of this statue may be found at

One of the lesser known, but extraordinary legends of ages past is the legend of St. Urho - patron saint of the Finnish vineyard workers.

Before the last glacial period wild grapes grew with abundance in the area now known as Finland. Archeologists have uncovered evidence of this scratched on the thigh bones of the giant bears that once roamed northern Europe. The wild grapes were threatened by a plague of grasshoppers until St. Urho banished the lot of them with a few selected Finnish words.

In the memory of this impressive demonstration of the Finnish language, Finnish people celebrate on March 16, the day before St. Patricks day. It tends to serve as a reminder that St. Pat's day is just around the corner and is thus celebrated by squares. At sunrise on March 16. Finnish women and children dressed in royal purple and nile green gather around the shores of the many lakes in Finland and chant what St. Urho chanted many years ago: "Heinasirkka, heinasirkka, menetaalta hiiteen." (Translated: "Grasshopper, grasshopper, go away!")

Adult male, (people, not grasshoppers) dressed in green costumes gather on the hills overlooking the lakes, listen to the chant and then kicking out like grasshoppers, they slowly disappear to change costumes from green to purple. Th celebration ends with singing and dancing polkas and schottisches and drinking grape juice. Though these activities may occur in varying sequences.

Color for the day is royal purple and nile green.

The purple is said to signify the grapes and the green the stems of the grape veins or the dead grasshoppers, take your pick.

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