Fun_People Archive
18 Mar
For those of you who didn't know ....

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Thu, 18 Mar 99 14:54:53 -0800
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Subject: For those of you who didn't know ....

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Forwarded-by: Kristin Garrity <>
Forwarded-by: Kristin Garrity <>

John Murrell, Minister of Information, San Jose Mercury News
March 16, 1999

You've got to love a week that includes a holiday on which many glasses are
lifted in honor of a legendary saint. Yes, today is St. Urho's Day,
commemorating the patron of the Finnish vineyards.  (Those with a strong
constitution, or a spare liver, sometimes continue their celebration into
the next day, blending indistinguishably with revelers honoring a better
known saint.)

As the story goes, back before the last glacial period, Finland had a
thriving grape crop that was threatened by hordes of grasshoppers until
Urho, armed only with a pitchfork, drove off the bugs with the now-famous
words, ''Heinasirkka, heinasirkka, menetaalta hiiteen!'' (roughly,
''Grasshopper, grasshopper, go away!''). Now, at dawn on March 16, women
and children gather on the shores of Finland's lakes and chant that phrase,
while the men, dressed in green and stationed on the surrounding hilltops,
listen and then, kicking like grasshoppers, disappear to change their
costumes to purple. Much dancing and drinking of grape juice follows.

You are not the first to suspect that all this was invented over coffee in
a department store basement in Virginia, Minn., in 1956 and popularized by
Bemidji State professor Sulo Havumaki to put the Finns one up on the Irish.
I won't dignify such talk with a response. Suffice it to say that St. Urho's
Day is now recognized by all 50 states and even has a foothold in Finland.
So for next year, make a note to wear your green and purple (except in the
sauna, of course).


 In the Way Too Much Information Age, staying ignorant takes work.
-John Murrell, Minister of Information, SJ Mercury News

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