Saint Urho's Day Date in the current year: March 16, 2016

Saint Urho's Day Saint Urho's Day is an informal celebration of Finnish culture that originated in America. Despite its name, it is not an official church holiday. It was invented in 1956 by Richard Mattson, a Finnish-American from Minnesota.

Mattson's coworker asked him whether the Finns had a patron saint like the Irish Saint Patrick, who cast the snakes out of Ireland. In response, Mattson invented a legend about Saint Urho, who cast the frogs out of Finland. The name “Urho” was probably chosen because of Urho Kekkonen, who was elected as president of Finland that year.

Originally, the holiday was celebrated on May 24. The date was changed to March 16, the day before Saint Patrick's Day, so that people had two days to celebrate. The legend has also changed. Its alternative version states that Saint Urho drove grasshoppers from Finland, saving the grape crops.

The concept of this holiday is particularly humorous in light of the fact that the overwhelming majority of the Finns are affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, which does not recognize feasts of saints. Nevertheless, Saint Urho's Day is celebrated in many communities with Finnish roots in the US and Canada as well as in some places in Finland.

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Saint Urho's Day, informal holiday, unofficial holiday, Finnish culture, Richard Mattson