Fictional Saint Celebrated to Highlight Finnish Heritage

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DONNA – A group of people get together during March to celebrate a fictional saint, who they said got rid of the grasshoppers in Finland and saved the grape harvest.

The special day is called St. Urho’s Day. In reality, the holiday was originated by Finish Americans as a way of celebrating their heritage.

“Both of my parents were Finnish. My grandparents emigrated from Finland,” one woman said.

They are Winter Texans who meet every year on March 16 for lunch at Harold’s Country Kitchen in Donna.

“And our grandparents both came from Finland and we’ve been coming here for 23 years to the Valley,” she said.

St. Urho’s Day was started in Minnesota over 60 years ago. The fictional legend said St. Urho drove out the grasshoppers thus saving the grape harvest in Finland.

“Were there grasshoppers in Finland and was there wine in Finland? We don’t know but it’s a legend to celebrate and a time to gather and celebrate our heritage and have a good time together,” Sandie Cronin, an organizer for St. Urho’s Day festivities, said.

Some attendees said they knew some people from Finland and that was the extent of their relationship to the culture.

It’s all in good fun and everyone is encouraged to wear crazy hats of purple and green. There are some that say they would like to be Finns, while others proclaim, ‘Pray for me I’m married to a Finn.’

“I just think it’s great. Sandie worked so hard at arranging it and we’re so happy people come here and enjoy the day,” one woman said.

Most of the attendees have known each other for a while but others met for the first time.

When it comes to explaining to friends about the holiday, one attendee said they receive strange looks.

But celebrating a fictional saint is a fun tradition bringing old and new friends together.

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