Monday, June 15, 2009

The Legend of St. Urho

Under this statue, the plaque reads: "One of the lesser known but extraodinary legends of ages past is the legend of St. Urho-patron saint of the Finnish vinyard workers. Before the last glacial period, wild grapes grew with abundance in the area now known as Finland. Archeaologists have discovered evidence of this scratched on the thigh bones of the giant bears that once roamed through 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 16th, 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 on at sunrise on March 16th. 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. Color for the day is royal purple and nile green."

I cannot think of a more anticlimactic legend. And yet, it seemed to fit.

No comments:

Post a Comment