Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Patrick and Urho

Today is St. Patrick's Day, a famous day for parades, green clothing, green beer, green hair and blarney. This message will not be posted until tomorrow, by which time, St. Patrick's Day will have passed by for this year. Today is already too late to celebrate St. Urho's Day, the day that commemorates St. Urho's driving all the grasshoppers out of Finland.  

I married a woman of Finnish ancestry (as well as a few other sources).  I found that a previous William Kirby was a scholar of Finnish language and culture.  But it was quite a few years later that I learned of St. Urho ('er-who). As the entry for this figure in the Wikipedia article about Urho says, he is a FICTIONAL Finnish (American) saint.  You may know that Finland is a basically Lutheran country and has few if any saints.  

As I understand the story, some Finnish-Americans felt there was no good reason for one ethnic group, the Irish Americans, to get so much attention.  They wanted some. So, they invented the story of St. Urho. It turns out the saint's day was one day before the day for celebrating the memory of that Irish guy (actually born in Wales, of all places). The colors associated with this saint are purple and green.  Few have heard of the vigorous Finn and his heroic deeds but give him time.

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