March 16 is celebrated for Saint Urho, the Patron Saint of Finland. According to the “legend” created by some very intelligent Finish immigrants to the USA, Saint Urho chased the grasshoppers out of Finland and saved the vineyards.
His precise command to the pesky green creatures was “Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen“. Translated into current vernacular, it means “grasshoppers, grasshoppers go to Hades”.
Now, if grasshoppers deserve a place in the nether regions for their destructive behavior, it is beyond our ken to know. However, it would seem to me that the smell of burning grasshoppers in the tens of thousands from below the surface would be noticeable and somewhat overwhelming—just saying.
Some among us may enjoy the smell and taste of rotisserie grasshopper. There are many who would not allow their delicate taste buds to savor such delicacies. Perhaps, dark chocolate added to the serving, but on second thought—no.
So before you the don the green for March 17 and the Irish Saint Patrick, on March 16, if you have any Finnish blood in your veins or not, cloak yourself with regal purple and Nile green (yellowish green). Enjoy a pasty or two as your celebrate March 16 as well as a cool slice of grasshopper pie. Recipes are below for both traditional and vegan.
Now, you do not need to be Finnish or a Yooper—just someone who enjoys celebrations and good food. Years ago we use to have a group of friends who celebrated March 16 with a lot of baking of pasties, but as age has set in and people have move on, traditions fade like the pages of an old book sitting on the deck in the afternoon Summer sun.
If you choose, begin or continue your Saint Urho’s celebrations. If you are inclined, enjoy Saint Patrick’s Day as well–you don’t have to be Irish for that either.
G. D. Williams © 2018
Finnish Pasties Recipe
Ever since I was a child I have eaten Finnish Pasties! I have been wanting to put up my own Finnish pasties recipe for a while now, and I was finally able to do it this weekend. Pasties are just so delicious and combine veggies, meat, and a crumbly crust that when all combined together and topped with a little bit of gravy or ketchup, it just melts in your mouth.
Traditional Yooper Pasties
Yooper: a native or resident of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Karelian Pie: Vegan, Two Ways
History of the Pasty
The pasty certainly feels Finnish. It embodies the Finnish term Sisu, ill-defined in the English language. Sisu is a Nordic stoicism, tenacity without self-aggrandizing romanticisms. I define Sisu via a pre-Simpsons Matt Groening cartoon, his era of anthropomorphized rabbits. In one comic, a rabbit runs the gamut of life-to-death highlights – birth, death, marriage, divorce – while a voice assures him, “You’ll never make it. Quit squirming.”
Sisu would say, “You’ll never make it. Keep squirming.”
St. Urho’s Day, a Finnish-American celebration, began in Minnesota in 1956. This tongue-in-cheek event reflects the Finnish-American acculturation process with a nod to St. Patrick’s Day. St. Urho’s Day is celebrated March 16, and is now recognized as a Finnish-American event throughout the United States. Minnesotans Richard L. Mattson and Sulo Havumaki are credited for initiating this celebration in 1956. The colors worn on St. Urho’s Day, royal purple and nile green, are in memory of the fictitious occasion on which St. Urho (“St. Brave”) supposedly chased away the grasshoppers threatening Finland’s grape harvest. The Finns in America @Library of Congress