-

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Urho and the Grasshoppers

We discuss a fair amount of obscure holidays at Months of Edible Celebrations, but few have been as easy to unearth as the celebration of Urho's Day on March 16th.

St. Urho's Day, a Finnish-American celebration, began in Minnesota in 1956. This tongue-in-cheek event reflects the Finnish-American acculturation process with a nod to St. Patrick's Day. St. Urho's Day is celebrated March 16, and is now recognized as a Finnish-American event throughout the United States. Minnesotans Richard L. Mattson and Sulo Havumaki are credited for initiating this celebration in 1956. The colors worn on St. Urho's Day, royal purple and nile green, are in memory of the fictitious occasion on which St. Urho ("St. Brave") supposedly chased away the grasshoppers threatening Finland's grape harvest. The Finns in America @Library of Congress
Great Lakes Gazette
It's Almost St. Urho's Day

So, to put it in perspective, On This Date in Minnesota History, the story of Finland's patron saint, St. Urho, (pronounced "ooh-ro") was conceived.

According to one legend: "Once upon a time, many years (or centuries?) ago in Finland, there were wild grapes growing everywhere, used for making wine. But one day a cloud of locusts (or grasshoppers) arrived to chew up all the grapes. No more wine!

Enter St. Urho. By waving his pitchfork and chanting, 'Grasshoppers, grasshoppers, scoot!' (or something like that), he drove the grasshoppers out of Finland. The vintners were so happy they declared him a saint and revered him ever after on the 16th of March. St. Urho: Finnish fact or fiction?

Great Lakes Gazette
It's Almost St. Urho's Day

It is said that Finnish people are the biggest coffee-drinkers in the world. As it turns out, they have only recently entertained the notion of becoming avid wine drinkers. As for growing grapes on a commercial scale, highly unlikey. The climate in Finland is simply not suitable. There are a limited number of berry wine makers who cater to the tourism trade and I suppose it would be possible to cultivate Ice Wine in Finland but as to Finland ever being in the center of a wine producing arena, I seriously doubt it. Vodka yes:) (Finnish Vodka was recently named among the best spirits in the world.)

Like most celebrations, Urho's Day is not without food. Lots and lots of food.

According to Lake Superior Magazine, "Finnish immigrants who settled in the Lake Superior region in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ontario are credited with creating and naming this signature dish."

Mojakka (pronounced MOY-a-kah) is a soup served in Finnish-American households in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Western Ontario. The principal ingredients are beef or fish and potatoes. Made with fish it is called kalamojakka (KAH-la-moy-a-kah), with beef it is lihamojakka (LEE-ha-moy-a-kah).
Recipe @ Great Lakes Gazette

What would a hearty bowl of Mojakka be without a home made loaf of Finnish Rye Bread? This recipe comes from a wonderful cookbook compiled by The Catholic Ladies Guild of St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Ivanho, Minnesota.

Finnish cookery is Scandinavian, but simpler and more austere. The foods of Finland are basic foods. Salmon is most plentiful in the rivers of northern Finland. The center cuts are fried or broiled, the end pieces are used for fish puddings, and scraps for soup. Herring is another popular fish imported salted or smoked. Finnish Cookery by Nika Hazelton

Marion and I won't be celebrating Urho's Day today. However, Marion wouldn't hear of not having Corned Beef and Cabbage tomorrow. I've even promised her that I will attempt to bake up these Irish Soda Bread Rounds from the new recipe book she bought me for St. Patrick's Day:) (she's a huge fan of Publisher's Clearance House "give-aways") I might be able to convince her to "settle" on this Grasshopper Mousse I found over at Liz's. She's also a huge fan of desserts!

I hope you have enjoyed uncovering the The Legend of "Saint" Urho; as much as I have. I would like to close today's post with a quote from one of my favorite books on American culinary history; American Food-A Celebration compiled by a team of expert food writers in the field of American cuisine. Heading the team was Joanne Weir, one time director of The Weir Cooking School in San Francisco. (this is a beautiful coffee-table top book filled with regional food habits, recipes, history and lots of color photographs)

Resources
1. Finnish traditions stay strong in the US
2. Finntown’s slice of the Big Apple
3. Finnish Food Glossary
4. Wine Facts from Finland

55 comments:

  1. Hi Louise. I've not been able to drop in as often as I'd like. Hv been quite hectic this past mths. I w however post a recipe which I tried out yesterday pretty soon .
    So, the grasshoppers are the culprit eh.. No wonder my grapes seems to be missing most of its fruits. I Thot it might be the birds n the squirrels. I've seen quite large grasshoppers hanging onto the vine m Thot it only feeds on the leaves. Even when I protect the grapes w plastic n it still goes missing. Now I know n shall thk of a way to get rid of them. Maybe I shd try the chanting eh.. Lol. An interesting piece of post you hv here Louise. Say hi to Marion n hope she enjoyed yr corned beef n cabbage n yr Irish soda bread.,. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jenn!
      Not to worry, we all get busy when life steps in:) I hope you find your grape culprit. Can't wait for your next post but take your time, lol...

      Delete
  2. Never heard of St. Urho. But it sounds like a worthy celebration! Irish soda bread is good stuff (as is corned beef, of course) so I hope you have a great feast tomorrow! Fun post -- thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sure seems to be catching on John! I will be making irish soda Bread but I'm not sure about those rounds, lol...

      Delete
  3. I get to know somany things from here..thanks for sharing about St.Urho ..I loved the irish soda bread ..I will try it soon..lovely post as always ....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you enjoyed your visit, Gloria. Let us know how you like the Irish Soda Bread:)

      Delete
  4. St Urho is kinda creepy! Hahsha!
    Thanks for all the info....never knew ANY of this stuff....
    We had corned beef and cabbage rolls last night with company.....dee lish!
    Enjoy your Sunday......
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dear Louise, What a wonderful post! You are so amazing! I love the story of St. Urho! Never, ever heard this one before. This story reminds me of the legend of The Pied Piper of Hamelin, where he sent away all the rats from the town, like St Patrick and the snakes.. Love all of these legends and folklore. How interesting the Mojakka is, and the home made loaf of Finnish Rye Bread. Love rye bread. I agree with Marion Corned Beef and Cabbage would make the day a perfect one. No matter if you are Irish or not, it is yummy. I have never seen a recipe for Irish Soda Bread in small rounds like the one you posted. Great idea. The book Marion gave you looks like a lovely gift. The quote is definitely a keeper, and that is by Joanne Weir. She is on TV, and I watch her cooking show. She is very calm and explains everything so well including wines. Louise, dear friend you have done it again! Interesting and I do love the info on the Finnish Cooking. Love the photos too! Thanks ..I do hope that you and Marion have a blessed St. Patrick's Day and enjoy your dinner! Don't forget to wear green! Blessings Dottie :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marion was quite pleased with our Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner, Dottie. And we're both looking forward to the leftovers! So glad you enjoyed this post.

      Delete
  6. Hi Louise , I always love dropping in for a visit , I never know what you have for entertainment , this one is great , I never heard of St . Urho , but it is another day to celebrate . My family will celebrate at the drop of a hat . ;-D . This post is so interesting like all of your posts are and all your posts are 'Kid Friendly' which makes them a great big PLUS . Tell Marion I will be joing her with Corned Beef and Cabbage tomorrow , Louise I will tey my and at the Irish Soda Rounds , my family will love them . (((HUGS))) to you and Marion and thanks for sharing :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sometimes don't know myself, Nee, lol...Marion is stuffed!

      Delete
  7. Well, it's always good to have a reason to celebrate. Too bad I have no grapes, right?

    Happy Sunday, Louise! Enjoy your "wearin' o' the green" tomorrow! (When my two youngest were small, they called it "National Wear Green Day" - suitable, right?)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. National Wear Green Day? I need to remember that for next year Marjie. Although, neither of us wore green but we did enjoy Corned Beef and Cabbage and Soda Bread!

      Delete
  8. Would you believe that I actually knew about this one? I have a friend who is Finnish and she reminded me. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It seems to be the kind of holiday that gets passed around through word of mouth, Pattie. Thanks for visiting!

      Delete
  9. Another interesting tale, with great recipes to try:) Hope your weekend was full of joy for this celebration.

    ReplyDelete
  10. A wonderful celebration! I learnt something new today, thanks.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Louise, I've never heard of never heard of St. Urho before. Thank you so much for sharing this interesting post :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It seems to be a regional celebration, Ann. Now we both know! Thanks for visiting...

      Delete
  12. Very interesting. Who knew about all of these unique holidays. I am all in for a reason to celebrate.

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a fun post. I've never heard of St Urho but my favourite colours are green and purple so maybe it is meant for me to celebrate it. Though I think I will pass on the grasshopper cookies. Your soda bread sounds great - hope you had a happy St Pat's day feast with Marion

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love green and purple too, Johanna. Maybe that's why I chose this day to celebrate!

      Delete
  14. Una celebraciòn increìble Louise gracias por compartir esta historia,abrazos y saludos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me alegro de que te haya gustado Rosita. Fue tan divertido para publicar!

      Delete
  15. Now this is one obscure holiday!!! Thanks so much for linking up my mousse, Louise....perfect for St. Urho day :) Who knew?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wow - talk about obscure but I do love it ... and all the food :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Louise,
    An interesting post! I have never heard of St. Urho.
    I detest grasshoppers! They ate my little baby basil plants, and now my plants are bald, with not one piece of leaf on them!
    And thank you for stopping by my garden. I have discarded that thyme plant a while back, as the roots was infested as well. The new plant which I bought is slowly drying out and I can see that it would not last long too! :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't know grasshoppers like basil, Joyce. Very interesting although, it's too bad about your little plant. I hope you can save your thyme. I know you are in drought conditions by you, Maybe covering it with plastic will help to save water. Good Luck!

      Delete
  18. Thanks for sharing this so unique celebration and showing us some of the Finnish customs. I always learn something new when I visit here! Have a beautiful day my friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it Katerina. It was such fun to share...

      Delete
  19. Well I will admit, I have never heard of St Urho day. As a matter of fact, I did not realize the grasshoppers needed to be driven out of Finland. learn something new every day!! Clarice

    ReplyDelete
  20. I've never made a soda bread and I should really try. Thank you for the reminder, Louise!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your really should give it a try, Angela. I made it for Marion with a few "twists" and she still loved it!

      Delete
  21. This story reminds me of San Pasqual which I am told is a made up saint of the kitchen. I have two carved figurines (from NM) in my kitchen. Hope the soda bread turns out. Thank you for sharing this story!!!!! I love tongue-in-cheek creations like this.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hey this is really interesting! I did not know that celebrations for St.Urho ever existed and I love Irish soda bread! Here in the UK is being sold in most bakeries. Healthy and full of flavour. Thank you for another fab post Louise! X

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi Louis,

    I guess wine and coffee have become an universal drink for everyone... We need caffeine to be awake and need alcohol to be "drunk"... LOL! Learned a lot about St Urho day today... I did realise that there is a little Finnish culture in Minnesota but didn't see it clearly in term of its food and any form of celebrations... I guess I have lived there to experience everything fully :D

    Zoe

    ReplyDelete
  24. Such an interesting story about St. Urho...like the hearty recipes...and the bread look awesome.
    Hope you are having a wonderful week Louise :D

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thanks for sharing about St Urho, what a wonderful celebration :D
    Love it!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    ReplyDelete
  26. This one is new to me but I am all in favour of St Urho if he gets rid of pesky grasshoppers - in Brisbane, they stripped my herbs and lemon tree bare.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Another fun, informative post! Who knew?! Cheers, St. Urho.

    ReplyDelete
  28. The crickets get so bad here they cover walls.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hi Louise, very impressive posting. You're an excellent writer, 2 thumbs up for you.
    Thanks for sharing the St. Urho's Day. Learn something new today, the grapes and grasshoppers, very interesting tale. The recipes look good too.

    Best regards. Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I've never heard of Urho's Day before.

    I need to try that Finnish Rye Bread recipe - yum.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Louise, I just love this post…so much information that I never knew! I never even heard of St Urho…Very interesting!

    ReplyDelete
  32. interesting! nvr heard of st urho and how it all began with grasshoppers and grapes..interesting. So did you manage to make that irish soda bread? ...also on that real grasshoppers in cookies...urgh...is that real? corned beef and cabbage sounds lot better to me..:)

    ReplyDelete
  33. Gosh, your post on Finland reminds me of my Angry Birds trip there couple of years ago. I got to meet some wonderful Finns in Helsinki & ate reindeer meat too!

    ReplyDelete

Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise