The Minnesotan accent is well-known and easily mocked. Yah, sure we use phrases like “you betcha” and could easily trademark “ope, sorry,” but no place is more proud of the unique blend of German and Scandinavian heritage that contributed to the long vowels used so frequently in this northern dialect. The accent isn’t the only thing we held onto, though. Traditions keep us going through the long, slow end to winter. As we usher in spring, we’re one of the last places up north to see the ice disappear on the lake and the snow mounds melt for good. By gathering to celebrate spring holidays, we take time to reflect on a few traditions and soak up the last days of winter and the first days of spring.
Starting with a night-time hike on Friday, March 6, grab your snowshoes and hit the Oberholtzer Trail to explore the woods and wildlife that come out at night with the “Night Eyes Snowshoe Hike” from 7 to 8:30 PM. It’s a method of travel used for centuries and it’s a heck of a lot quieter than the engine of a snowmobile or the roar of an ATV. Get ready for some serious quiet time to connect with nature in a whole new way. This is a self-guided hike, so you’ll be free to go at your own pace and stop to see the owl or fox that share the trail. Start at the Rainy Lake Visitor Center and let your curiosity guide you deeper and deeper into the dim-lit woods that are humming with nocturnal creatures.
In mid-March, celebrate the Finnish or Irish Saint (or both) that are traditionally synonymous with the start of spring. St. Urho’s Day is quirky and just what we need to break our late-winter cabin fever. This holiday that takes place on March 16 celebrates a make-believe saint who is said to have driven away the grasshoppers from Finland in order to save their grape crop. Originating in Virginia, MN, Northern Minnesotans take this holiday pretty seriously and welcome anyone to celebrate this bizarre and fun holiday.
St. Patrick’s Day, on March 17, celebrates a saint who is said to have chased unwelcome snakes out of Ireland. This impressive feat was given an entire holiday celebrating Irish culture and history. Pack something green or risk being pinched, or so says tradition.
All of this foreshadows the first official day of spring in the northern hemisphere, March 19. It might not feel like spring up here, but this sweet spot between winter and spring means wildlife galore. Between the heavy walleye activity on Rainy River and wildlife that is just starting to come out of hibernation, there’s plenty to see and do. Whether you choose to celebrate a saint or discover one of the most beautiful landscapes in Minnesota by snowshoe, there’s an activity for you up here. It’s all waiting to be explored, don’t cha know?