Posted by: Kath Usitalo | March 15, 2013

Make Your Mojakka; It’s Almost St. Urho’s Day!

A tribute to St. Urho stands in a park in Menagha, Minnesota

A tribute to the grasshopper-chaser St. Urho stands in a park in Menahga, Minnesota

 

Today, as those of Irish descent prepare for their annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration, Finnish Americans are donning the purple and the green in honor of St. Urhoa patron saint who might be better known if his name was easier to pronounce; not many people can master the rolling of the “r” (Urrrrrrho).

I was lucky enough to see the St. Urho statue on a trip through Minnesota last fall

I was lucky enough to see the statue and pay respects to St. Urho on a trip through Minnesota last fall

St. Urho is celebrated each March 16 for saving Finland’s grape crop by chasing a plague of grasshoppers out of the country.

This act of heroism occurred in ancient days when Finland’s climate was warmer, vineyards flourished, and grasshoppers were terrified of a man with a pitchfork chanting, “Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen” (loosely translated, “Grasshopper, grasshopper, go to Hell!”).

The Legend of St. Urho is better known in the U.S. than in Finland, mainly because he was invented in Minnesota in the 1950s. There is a statue of St. Urho in Menahga, Minnesota, where festivities include a mojakka supper and mojakka cook-off (it’s a Finnish beef stew; see link to recipe below), barstool races and a wild Saturday evening Bingo & Meat Raffle at the VFW.

Michigan pays tribute to the legend with a sculpture of a giant grasshopper in the Finnish farming community of Kaleva.

St. Urho tribute in Kaleva (provided photo)

St. Urho tribute in Kaleva (provided photo)

Unlike the widespread celebrations of March 17 when everyone claims to be Irish, St. Urho tributes are low-key and mainly found in pockets of Northern Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon and Canada, where Finnish-Americans have learned how to pronounce Urho (it involves rolling the “r”).

Salutes to the obscure idol revolve around mojakka suppers, the wearing of that lovely purple and green combo, and raising a glass or several—which also happens to help with the rolling of the “r”, as in Happy St. Urrrrrrho’s Day

This post first appeared on March 16, 2011

Spiffy StUrhosDay.com logo

Spiffy StUrhosDay.com logo

NOTE: Check out the St. Urho’s festivities at StUrho’sDay.com

Related Posts: 

Mojakka, Finnish beef stew, is a hearty St. Urho's Day meal

Mojakka, Finnish beef stew, is a hearty St. Urho’s Day meal

Recipe File: Salute St. Urho with Finnish Stew (mojakka)

Happy St. Urho’s Day (2009)

St. Urho’s Day (2012)

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Responses

  1. From Rod

    Ode to Saint Urho
    by Gene McCavic and Richard Mattson
    Virginia, Minnesota

    Ooksi kooksi coolama vee
    Santia Urho is ta poy for me!
    He sase out ta hoppers as pig as pirds.
    Neffer peefor haff I hurd tose words!

    He reely tolt tose pugs of kreen
    Braffest Finn I effer seen
    Some celebrate for St. Pat unt hiss nakes
    Putt Urho poyka kot what it takes.

    He kot tall and trong from feelia sour
    Unt ate kala moyakka effery hour.
    Tat’s why tat kuy could sase toes peetles
    What krew as thick as chack bine neetles.

    So let’s give a cheer in hower pest vay
    On Sixteenth of March, St. Urho’s Tay.

  2. Yah, sure, dat’s a good vun, Rod. Tanks for sharing, eh?


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