HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY
St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the Roman Catholic feast day of the patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick died on March 17, 461. But did you know that he wasn’t even Irish?
Traveling along the Irish countryside you can see many shades of green, but knights in the Order of St. Patrick wore a color known as St. Patrick’s blue. Green has been used by supporters of Irish independence who used the color to represent their cause in the 18th century and later. Undeniably, green is used to denote Ireland today but that has nothing to do with St. Patrick.
Interestngly, Patrick’s birth name was Maewyn, born in Roman Britain, kidnapped into slavery at age 16 and brought to Ireland. He escaped to a monastery in Gaul (France) where he converted to Christianity. He returned to Ireland in 432 as a missionary. Patrick ultimately became a bishop and after his death was named Ireland’s patron saint. Celebrations in Ireland were understated though. When the Irish emigrated to the U.S., they created the bigger celebrations and parades known today.
It wasn’t until early in the eighteenth century when the Irish held their first St. Patrick Day parades. The celebrations became a way for the Irish to connect with their roots after they moved to America.
The shamrock: According to legend St. Patrick used the three leaf clover (or shamrock) to explain the Trinity. The plant commonly sold today as shamrock is usually trifolium minus, a small yellow-flowered clover with four leaves.
Dyeing the river green: The practice of dyeing the river green started in Chicago in 1962, when city officials decided to dye a portion of the Chicago River green.
Corn beef and cabbage: This is an Irish American dish. 19th century Irish American immigrants were so poor they couldn’t afford certain meals. On St. Patrick’s Day, the best meal they could pay for was beef and cabbage. It became a staple for the holiday for decades However, for many Irish people, Corned Beef is now too “poor” or plain to eat on a holiday, so they routinely make something more celebratory.
But, how did we come to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the United States? North America has only observed this holiday since the late eighteenth century. Although not a legal holiday in the USA, St. Patrick’s Day is widely recognized and celebrated throughout the country with Irish festivals, parades, food like corn beef and cabbage, excessive Guinness beer drinking, prominent displaying of the color green and Irish traditions. On any given day 5.5 million pints of Guinness, the famous Irish stout brand, are consumed around the world. But on St. Patrick’s Day, that number more than doubles to 13 million pints, said Beth Davies Ryan, global corporate-relations director of Guinness. In addition, the consumption of green beer has become part of the tradition.
Unfortunately, few St. Patrick’s Day revelers have a clue about St. Patrick, the historical figure, according to modern day experts on the subject. But now you can offer some valid insight about this poplar nationwide party day, and while you’re at it please ensure that a designated driver is identified if the celebration involves a location away from your home.
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