There are many legends that got their start in MN. These include Bob Dylan, Charles Lindberg, Judy Garland, Charles Shultz, Roger Maris, Sinclair Lewis and many more. However, possibly the biggest legend to get its start in MN is none other than the patron saint of Finland, St Urho.
St Urho (pronounced “Errrr-hoe”) was a “made-up” legend from stories that started in Northern Minnesota. Stories of his creation can vary, but basically he was created to upstage the Irishman that is also famous around this time of the year. Ah, what was his name again? St Cloud? St Peter? St Paul? No, St Patrick I believe. Oh, who really cares….
Anyway, the story has changed over the years, but the primary belief now is that St Urho scared a large grasshopper plague out of Finland before the last glacial period when wild grapes grew in abundance in Finland. He did this primarily with his loud and booming voice by yelling “Heinasirkka, heinasirkka, meine taatta hiiten!” (“Grasshopper, grasshopper, go away!”)
So, you are to wear purple on St Urho’s Day (March 16th, the day before St. Patrick’s Day) to celebrate his saving of the grape crop and jobs of the Finnish vineyard workers.
While many people have still not heard of St Urho, his legend has grown since he was created in the 1950s. Many Finnish US towns celebrate the day as well as some towns in Canada. There is even a pub in Helsinki, Finland names “St Urho’s Pub”, although most Finlanders in their home country have never heard of St Urho.
In Minnesota, 4 towns have St Urho Day parades this year. They are Finland (yes…Finland, MN), Finlayson, Menahga and Squaw Lake. Also, two towns have St Urho statues. One is in Finland that depicts his loud and booming voice. The original statue is in Menahga and depicts St Urho with a huge grasshopper stuck to the end of a pitchfork. And, I also need to mention that there is a place called Garvin Heights Vineyards in Winona, MN that sells St Urho Wines. To buy their wines, check out their website here.
So, this months “Lure Of The Month” is a bait box…one designed to hold those pesky hoppers. I know nothing about this box such as its maker, age, or history. But, when I saw this for sale at an auction recently…I just had to have it. The box is small, but I bet is held a lot of bait. Or, as my nephew Zeke would say “Thatsa lotta Hoppers”.
So, have a wine or grape juice this month…and give a toast to a great Minnesotan Legend…St Urho!!