Social Distancing: St. Urho Days
COVID Can't Cancel One Of The Quirkiest Celebrations In The Region
So I promised you a crazy statue tour of Lakes Country in Monday’s segment. But my tour went longer than I thought it would and I didn’t get back home until almost 9 PM Sunday. With the time change stealing an hour from deep within our souls, I didn’t have time to put it all together. So I’ll have that for you Tuesday, I promise.
But in the mean time, I have a story of how a small town in Lakes Country keeps a tradition alive in the face of the pandemic.
But first, you do get one statue. This was the one I was looking forward to the most. St. Urho, Grasshopper Vanquisher in Menahga, Minnesota.
Legend has it, wild grapes grew all over in ancient Finland. A plague of grasshoppers was threatening the crop, and St. Urho drove them out with the phrase, “Heinasirkka, Heinasirkka, Menetaalta Hiteen”, which translates to “Grasshopper, Grasshopper, Go Away”.
In reality, the whole thing was made up in the 1950’s according to Roadside America.
But the whole thing has spawned celebrations in Finnish communities, including St. Urho Days in Menahga.
Normally they have a St. Urho King and Queen and a look-a-like contest.
There’s also a parade every year. But with COVID, they had to scale things down this year. They still kept the parade though. Here it is on Saturday, pretty much in its entirety.
A few people walked decked out in the festivals colors of green and purple, for the grasshoppers and the grapes.
It was small, but I was so glad I could see it! It was a complete coincidence I planned the trip on the same day.
Fun fact: St. Urho’s Day is technically March 16th every year, specifically the day before St. Patrick’s Day, all just to try and one-up the Irish.
It’s one of the quirkiest traditions I’ve ever heard of, and I am so glad they could keep part of it going this year. They even let me and my girlfriend hold the sign after the parade. If they can bring back the full pageantry next year, I’d love to be there and see it.
Do you know of any local traditions in our region that carried on in the face of COVID. I love how communities keep hold of what’s important to them.
Let me know about your local traditions on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to feature them on the show!