Monday, March 16, 2009

St Urho's Day

Happy St. Urho's Day everyone.

Here is my favorite St. Urho's Day poem:

The Legend of St. Urho
By Linda Johnson
(Published in The Finnish American Reporter)

There once was a boy, a Finlander fair
with sky-bright blue eyes and sunshine blond hair.
He came from up where the summer days
last twenty-four hours. From tough stock he came.
The Finns call it Sisu, it's courage and strength.
He was born in the sauna with sweat and steam.
One look at his face, and his mother just laughed.
Wrinkled and red, the babe looked like his dad.
"We'll call him Urho," his mother proclaimed.
"He's a strong boy, he needs a strong name."
Weaned on black coffee, hardtack and toast
he loved cardamon bread and ate more than most.
Urho grew like a weed; a typical boy.
The farm was his home, the land was his toy.
Urho's dad grew grapes to ferment over time
to make the Lutheran's communion wine.
At church the sacrament of body and blood
was Urho's dad's wine and cardamon bread.
Urho worked on the farm with his dad and his mom,
doing chores with a whistle, filling the sauna with song.
One Sunday at church Urho heard pastor say
"Dear folks we need Sisu and we all need to pray.
The grasshoppers are here and they're eating the vines,
Without any grapes we won't have our wine."
Urho snuck out of church and ran home that day
as fast as he could while the pastor prayed.
Urho rushed to the field where the grasshoppers ate.
Did he make it in time? Or was he too late?
Urho cried out aloud with all of his might.
His voice echoed like thunder and made day turn to night.
Heinasirkka, Heinasirkka, mene taalta Hilteen!
and with his fierce words the green plague was beaten.
Translated these words in English say
"Grasshopper, grasshopper, please go away."
The ugly beasts flew away into the night
and the darkness changed from shadow to light.
As Finland was freed from the insects so vile,
they pronounced Urho a saint and not just a child.
The legend has grown and spread through the years
of a brave Finnish boy without any fear.
Now each March 16 we celebrate this way:
wearing purple and green for St. Urho's Day.

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