Posted by: Kath Usitalo | March 16, 2011

Happy St. Urho’s Day


Giant grasshopper is a tribute to St. Urho tribute in Michigan’s Finnish American community of Kaleva (provided photo)

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. Urho, a 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).

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!”).

Statue of St. Urho in Menahga, Minnesota (Menahga photo)

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 and a sculpture of a giant grasshopper in Kaleva, Michigan

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 (stew) suppers, 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!

Mojakka, Finnish beef stew

NOTE: Last year I shared a recipe for Finnish beef stew; although I usually like to make it at least a day ahead of eating it, ours is simmering now for our traditional mojakka dinner tonight.



  1. That grasshopper is wonderful! The mojakka is a wonderful idea also! I will take a grasshopper in my garden whilst munching on that stew. Thanks for the reminder.

    • The aroma of the stew is making me hungry now…

  2. Mmmm! And I noticed the “limppu” bread ready-set-go. Great combo. Too bad U.P.’s Trenary Bakery is so far away.

  3. Way to go Urho – my hero!

  4. […] St. Urho’s Day 2011  […]

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