10th Finglish trip July 2010 #9
On March 16, 1999 in Kaleva, Michigan a large metal sculpture of a grasshopper was dedicated in honor of St. Urho's day, which is celebrated on 16th of March. Kaleva is a community settled by Finnish immigrants in 1900.
The legend of Saint Urho was the invention of a Finnish-American named Richard Mattson, who worked at Ketola's Department Store in Virginia, Minnesota in the spring of 1956. Mattson later recounted that he invented St. Urho when he was questioned by coworker Gene McCavic about the Finns' lack of a saint like the Irish St. Patrick, whose feat of casting the snakes out of Ireland is remembered on St. Patrick's Day.
According to the original "Ode to St. Urho" written by Gene McCavic and Richard Mattson, St. Urho was supposed to have cast grasshoppers out of Finland by the power of his loud voice, which he obtained by drinking viili, sour whole milk, and eating kala mojakka, fish soup. The selection of the name Urho as the saint's name was probably influenced by the accession of Urho Kekkonen to the presidency of Finland in 1956.
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