St Urho

St. Urho Statue
The statue of St. Urho, the legendary patron saint of Finland, is located along Hwy. 71 South. The statue serves as a way for visitors to remember Menahga and an exciting way for citizens to celebrate their Finnish ancestry on St. Urho Day. The park grounds surrounding St. Urho are maintained by the city and community volunteers to make the area attractive to visitors. A story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune included St. Urho as one of the seven "must-see" tourist attractions in the state.

The Legend of St Urho
One of the lesser known, but extraordinary legends of ages past is the legend of St. Urho – patron saint of the Finnish Vineyard workers. 

Before the last glacial period wild grapes grew with abundance in the area now known as Finland.  Archeologists have uncovered evidence of this scratched on the thigh bones of the giant bears that once roamed northern Europe.  The wild grapes were threatened by a plague of grasshoppers until St. Urho banished the lot of them with a few selected Finnish words.

In memory of this impressive demonstration of the Finnish language, Finnish people celebrate on March 16, the day before St. Patrick’s Day.  It tends to serve as a reminder that St. Pat’s Day is just around the corner and is thus celebrated by squares.  At sunrise on March 16, Finnish women and children dressed in royal purple and nile green gather around the shores of the many lakes in Finland and chant what St. Urho chanted many years ago.

“Heinasirkka, heinasirkka, menetaalta hiiteen.”  (Translated: “Grasshopper, grasshopper, go away!)

Adult male, (people, not grasshoppers) dressed in green costumes gather on the hills overlooking the lakes, listen to the chant and then kicking out like grasshoppers, they slowly disappear to change costumes from green to purple.  The celebration ends with singing and dancing polkas and schottisches and drinking grape juice, though these activities may occur in varying sequences.