Saint Urho

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My sister puzzles over the statue
The caption under the statue

Saint Urho is the patron saint of Finnish vinyard workers, who drove all the grasshoppers from Finland using the power of the Finnish language. His legend is believed to've been created by Finnish immigrants in Minnesota in response to the Hiberno-American Saint Patrick, and Saint Urho's day is celebrated the day before Saint Patrick's day. See Ahistorical traditions of Finnish mythology for more information on the details of its creation.

The Statue

The statue of Saint Urho in Menahga, Minnesota, depicts a Finnish vinyard worker with a giant grasshopper skewered on his pitchfork. The statue is in a small park on the edge of a highway.

The Legend

The caption at the bottom of the statue (the Ode to St. Urho) tells the Story of St. Urho and is supposed to prove the power of the Finnish Language. It says:

 One of the lesser known, but extraordinary legends
 of ages past is the legend of St. Urho-Patron Saint
 of the Finnish vinyard 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 memory of this impressive demonstration of
 the Finnish language, Finnish people celebrate on
 March 16, the day before St. Patrick's 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.
 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.  The 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.


There are many ironies of this statue, the least of which is that Finland today has quite an abundance of grasshoppers today. Additionally, the vinyard workers celebrate by drinking "grape juice"? Yeah.

See Also