The tradition, in this case, is St. Urho’s day, which comes from 1950s Minnesota. St. Uhro is a tongue-in-cheek invention, riffing off of the legends of St. Patrick and American folk heroes like Paul Bunyan. According to the story, the Finnish vineyards were faced with a terrible grasshopper problem (this was sometime in the mythic past when Finland had a climate conducive to grape growing). Urho yelled at the grasshoppers, and told them to leave Finland, and they did. All this happened on March 16th, and if you think this seems like an attempt to upstage St. Patrick, you might not be entirely wrong. Over the past 60 years, Finns in America have embraced St. Urho’s day as a way to honor their Finnishness. St. Urho is especially popular in places (like Butte) with both Finns and Irish, because St. Urho’s Day makes a perfect pre-party to St. Patrick’s Day.
In Butte, the festivities center around the Helsinki Bar and Yacht Club, the only remaining Finn Town building. Bar goers elect a “saint” and “lady” of the day who get draped in bright purple and green cloth, stand on the bar, shout out something in Finnish, and then get toasted with shots of purple schnapps. From there, festivities (probably after a few more purple drinks) eventually spill over into St. Patrick’s Day the next day. The fact that there are almost 63 different types of grasshoppers and crickets still living in Finland doesn’t seem to bother anyone in the slightest.