Skip to main content

Minnesota Finns don purple and green to celebrate lesser-known saint

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

For years people in small towns across Minnesota have gathered together to celebrate St. – no, not Patrick – Urho, the man who, according to legend, scared all the grasshoppers out of Finland to save the grapes.

St. Urho's Day is celebrated March 16, the day before his more-famous "cousin" St. Patrick.

The legend of St. Urho originated in Northern Minnesota in the 1950s, but two different men are credited with inventing the holiday – Sulo Havumaki of Bemidji and Richard Mattson of Virginia, according to the Bemidji Pioneer. The legend has spread and Finns across the United States and Canada now celebrate the saint.

For nearly two decades people in Finland, Minnesota have celebrated St. Urho's Day. The town, much like others in northern Minnesota, traces its roots to the 1800s when thousands of Finns came to the state – first to farming communities, then to the iron mines, MPR News reports.

"It's a heck of a party. After a long winter, and we've all got a bad case of cabin fever, to come out of our homes and see our neighbors and be totally silly out in the streets is really quite a relief," Amy Gardner told MPR. Gardner, who isn't of Finnish decent, celebrated her 24th St. Urho's Day this year.

Dressed in purple (for the grapes) and green (for the grasshoppers) and surrounded by images of grasshoppers and grapes, Finns and non-Finns in the town celebrate the holiday with a parade and games, including the Miss Helme beauty contest, where men dress in drag and display their talents at local bars. The winner rides in the parade, MPR says.

Other towns, like Jacobson, Minnesota, hold a pancake breakfast every year, according to the Aitkin AgeLake Norden holds an annual parade and potluck. Other celebrations also include competitive cribbage tournaments, bar stool races, frozen lake golf, and a grape distribution parade, according to Wired.

Similar to the holiday it proceeds by a day, St. Urho's celebrations typically involve alcohol, MPR says.

Here's a look at St. Urho's Day celebrations in Menahga, Minnesota:

Next Up

ConellHarris

Charges: Armed man made death threats at Minneapolis LGBTQ bar

The man allegedly used derogatory terms while threatening to kill someone.

image

FDA pulls last COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment as new variants rise

A therapy used to treat more than 11,000 Minnesotans is no longer authorized amid a surge in the latest COVID-19 variants.

Austin Robert LeClaire

Charges: Plymouth man shot girlfriend in head after birthday party

The 23-year-old victim is in critical condition as of Friday.

image

State announces $2.5M in grants for child care providers

Child care providers in roughly a dozen communities will receive funds to help grow the supply of affordable, quality child care.

image

Probe of Golden Valley police uncovers racism, alleged misconduct

One officer was terminated for alleged racist comments and violations of state law.

blowing snow

Blowing snow Friday in Minnesota; will it snow next week?

Winds could gust up to 50 mph Friday afternoon and night.

Deer hunting blaze orange

To combat CWD, late-season deer hunting announced for 9 areas of MN

The special hunts will be held between Dec. 16 and 18.

covid

COVID levels rising in wastewater; BQ.1 now dominant

BQ.1 is the new dominant subvariant in Twin Cities wastewater.

Screen Shot 2022-12-02 at 11.43.05 AM

Keith Ellison, other AGs settle with CarMax over recall disclosures

As part of the settlement, CarMax now must disclosure open recalls online and on the lot.

police lights squad car

Man kidnaps 2-year-old daughter in St. Paul, crashes after pursuit in Minneapolis

The incident involved both police departments in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

police lights

Boys aged 15, 16 arrested after shooting of teen in Woodbury

The victim suffered non-life-threatening gunshot wounds.

Related