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Saint Urho's Day - March 16

This modern tongue-in-cheek legend has added another touch of humor to Finnish culture. It appears to be the Finn's answer to St. Patrick who drove the snakes out of Ireland. The Finns are able to upstage St. Patrick by having their celebration on March 16th, the day before St. Patrick's Day.

This is how the legend goes:

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, the legend goes, wild grapes grew with abundance in the area now known as Finland. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of this fact scratched on the thigh bones of giant bears that once roamed northern Europe. The grapes were threatened by a plague of grasshoppers until Urho banished the lot of them with "Heinasirkka, heinasirkka, mene taalta hiiteen." In memory of this impressive demonstration of the power of the Finnish language, at sunrise each 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, many years ago; "Heinasirkka, heinasirkka, mene taalta hiiteen," which translated means: "Grasshopper, grasshopper, go away."

The adult males dressed in green costumes gather on the hill overlooking the lakes, listen to the chant, then, kicking out like grasshoppers, 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.

Colors for the day are royal purple and nile green.

The overpowering act of St. Urho is immortalized in the following:


Ooksie, kooksie, kollme vee
Santia Urho isa poy for me.
He sase out ta hopper as pig as birds,
Neffer peefor haff I hurd dose words!
He really told dose pugs of kreen;
Braffest Finn I effer seen.
Some celebrate for St. Pat unt his snakes,
Putt Urho poyka got what it takes.
He got tall unt strong on feelia sour,
Unt ate kalla moyakka effery hour.
Tats why dat guy could sase dose peetles
What crew as thick as chack bine needles.
So let's give a cheer in hower best vay,
On the sixteenth of March - St. Urho's Day!


One, two, three, five
Saint Urho is the boy for me.
He chased out the grasshoppers that were as big as birds,
Never before have I heard those words.
He really told those bugs of green,
Bravest Finn I've ever seen.
Some celebrate for St. Pat and his snakes,
But Urho boy has got what it takes.
He got tall and strong on feelia sour (sour buttermilk)
And ate kalla moyakka (fish head stew) every hour.
That's why that guy could chase those beetles,
That grew as thick as jack pine needles.
So let's give a cheer in our best way,
On the sixteenth of March - St. Urho's Day!

Link to St. Urho videos on You Tube

Link to St. Urho web site that has lots of other Urho links

Links to Finn jokes and to "Ole and Lena" jokes: Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4