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Finns Celebrate St. Urho
Mar 25, 2015
The Irish have St. Patrick and the Finns have St. Urho, who was feted in small town glory Saturday on the streets of Lake Norden.
The annual St. Urho’s Day parade was small, but Lake Norden’s Finns participated with zeal, donning the traditional royal purple and Nile green and affixing Finnish flags to wagons and tractors.
The legend of St. Urho is traced to a businessman in Minnesota who is said to have concocted the story in 1956 when a coworker chided him about the lack of saints in Finnish culture. He created St. Urho, whose miracle was casting the grasshoppers from his country’s grape crop by using his booming voice, obtained by drinking sour milk and eating fish soup. “Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen!” he shouted, which roughly translates to, “Grasshopper, grasshopper, go to Hell!”
The celebration originated in Lake Norden decades ago when two local Finns placed a sign in the window of the cafe advertising a St. Urho’s Day parade the upcoming weekend. Then they drove around town, honking the car horn. It has slowly grown to the dozen or so entries that paraded around town on Saturday.
After the parade, everyone gathered the community center for a potluck of Finnish delicacies. I begged off, because even though I’m willing to try almost anything, I still have qualms about fish head stew. Instead, I snatched a couple pieces of chocolate still lying on Main Street in the parade’s aftermath and headed for home, wondering what crop could be saved by a hero who ate Hershey’s bars and drank coffee. This might be the start of a new legend …