Happy St. Urho’s Day

My coffee drinking days began in the college Union beneath Sanford Hall on the campus of Bemidji State University (then Bemidji State College).  In those days I didn’t know a cappuccino from a latte, but daily I drank black coffee served in a tan-colored mug and ate a chewy brownie.    More than the coffee, it was the cute boy from North High In Minneapolis that drew me to the Beaver Union, and, yes, the brownie too.        

My advisor Dr. Sula Havumaki, a popular psychology professor, was often seen with other faculty members sipping coffee at the round tables.  Perhaps it was over coffee that Dr. Havumaki first spun his famous tale of the fictional Finnish Saint Urho, who bravely cast a swarm of grasshoppers into the sea to save Finland’s grape crop.
In the pretty town of Menahga, Minnesota, looms a fine statue of St. Urho and a plague commemorating the mythical battle and acknowledging Dr. Havumaki as the creator of this splendid tale.  Along with his name is an ode describing the feat and the subsequent celebration.  “St. Urho banished the lot of them with a few selected Finnish words:  “Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen” (Grasshopper, grasshopper, go from hence to hell!”
To celebrate St. Urho ridding the homeland of grasshoppers, and thereby saving the grape crop, the people have a hopping good time reenacting the battle.   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 shouted many years ago.  Meanwhile, the men dressed in green costumes appear on nearby hills and prance about (as grasshoppers), and as women and children chant “Grasshopper, grasshopper, go from hence to hell!” they vanish, but reappear dressed in royal Purple. http://www.brownielocks.com/urho.html


Dr. Sulo Havumaki’s mythical tale lives on as Finish Americans from Menahga, New York Mills, and Wolf Lake celebrate St. Urho’s Day with gusto and coffee.

In the far north of Minnesota, other stories claiming the origin of St. Urho’s Day are brewing, but this is coffeesnobology’s story and I’m sticking to it.


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6 Responses to “Happy St. Urho’s Day”

  1. Katharine Lehmkuhl Says:

    Ah, yes, the chewy brownies served at the student union. At Bemidji State I learned to drink my coffee black – it seemed more “mature”. The only way I could drink the black coffee was to nibble on a chewy brownie. At home we drank our coffee with milk and sugar, so black coffee was not so easy to get used to; however, the lessons took a stronger hold than any of my Freshman classes – I still take my coffee black to this day.

    And once again, Coffeesnobology, you have provided timely information about a day that, in certain towns (as the ones you mentioned), St. Urho’s Day is as big a day as the one set aside for that little green guy from Ireland.

  2. Lynn Says:

    Break out your purple and green clothing and celebrate in great style with a toast to Dr. Havumaki, grapes and St. Urho on Wednesday, March 16.

  3. Chuck Says:

    Mom, that was a pretty good read.

  4. Lynn Says:

    Yesterday, St. Urho’s Day, was the pre-party to today’s St. Patrick Day celebrations.

  5. green coffee usa Says:

    Ƭhanks for finally writing about >Happy St. Urhos Day | Coffee Snobology <Loved it!

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