St. Urho’s Day

Saint Urho’s Day is a holiday that’s observed annually on March 16th. This holiday has been going strong since the 1950s and celebrates a fictional saint of Finland known as Saint Urho. This holiday was created by Finnish Americans who lived in Northern Minnesota and it was seen as a fun way for them to celebrate their heritage, all while extending the boozy celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day.

Although this holiday originated in Minnesota, it’s celebrated by many communities with mixed populations of Irish and Finnish Americans including Butte, Montana. And although it was originally unknown in Finland, and still kind of is, it has been celebrated in that country from time to time.

The History Of Saint Urho’s Day

Richard Mattson worked at Ketola’s Department Store in Virginia, Minnesota in 1956 when he decided to create the legend of Saint Urho. According to legend, he invented the saint when his co-worker Gene McCavic questioned him about the Finns’ lack of a saint similar to the Irish saint, Saint Patrick.

According to Mattson, his newly created saint had cast frogs out of Finland by only the power of his voice after eating feelia sour (sour whole milk) and eating kala munakka (fish soup). Over the years, how this holiday has been celebrated has changed slightly.

It originally took place on May 24th, but that date was changed to March 16th. Saint Urho originally cast out frogs out of Finland (according to his origin story) but that has since been changed to him casting out grasshoppers.

Since this holiday’s creation, there is also an Ode to Saint Urho that was created as well. This ode gives a brief explanation of the story of Saint Urho but does it in a festive way.

Observing Saint Urho’s Day

This is the perfect day for people to dress up in purple (the colors of Saint Urho) and then enjoy the celebration with friends and family members. Of course, if you live in a community that doesn’t have a significant Finnish population, then you might have to begin your own celebration.

We recommend learning the Ode to Saint Urho and serving Finnish food. What type of Finnish food do we like to serve while celebrating Saint Urho’s Day? Well, we like to start out with a rye bread called Ruisleipä, cabbage rolls known as Kaalikääryleet, and a fish soup known as Kalakeito.

Yes, we know that not everyone loves fish soup, so a good substitution is a Finnish Meatball dish known as Lihapullat. What’s for dessert? How about Kainuu Lingonberry Pasties known as  Kainuun Rönttönen? It sounds good to us.

When is it?
This year (2024)
March 16 Saturday
Next year (2025)
March 16 Sunday
Last year (2023)
March 16 Thursday
Culture & History, Fun & Joy