Today is St. Urho’s day, a holiday I wouldn’t normally have thought about with the exception of people posting well wishes for the holiday on facebook. If you’ve never heard of St. Urho’s day, check out the link: http://www.sainturho.com/
Basically it’s a holiday celebrated the day before St. Patrick’s day by American born Finnish people. Growing up in the upper penninsula of Michigan, there are plenty of Finnish people that shaped the culture of celebrations, jokes (“so Toivo and Anno go down to the Wooden Nickel…”), and food. It got me thinking about all the other things I thought were “normal” growing up. Things such as:
1. There are at least 5 pastie shops in every town. If you’re not from the U.P, it’s pronounced, “past-ee”, and if you’ve never tasted their lard-laden delight, I feel sad for you. On nice days would head out to Presque Isle with our Jean Kay’s pasties & sit enjoying the waves of Lake Superior while dousing our pasties with ketchup. yum.
2. Everyone celebrates St. Urho’s day. You wear purple, you pinch people who don’t. Stores decorate with purple grapes for St. Urho’s day and then the next day bust out the shamrocks for St. Patty’s. In retrospect, maybe it was just an excuse to drink wine one night and then green Bud Light the next?
3. Many people have Sauna’s in their homes, or at least their camps. Here again it’s pronounced “sow-na” not “saana”. The idea is to get really steamy hot in the Sauna, get out to plunge yourself in the freezing snow, or lake if you’re fortunate enough to have one nearby, run back into the sauna and repeat. Allegedly it’s supposed to clear your pores. All I know is it feels great and you sleep like the dead if you take a sauna at night.
Once I moved “down-state” and into Grand Rapids, I quickly realized all the other cultural norms for a place shaped mostly by Dutch people rather than Finnish people. That experience is a whole other blog post.