The 17th of March means a mighty celebration for Irish people… plus anyone else who wants to join in! St. Patrick’s Day marks the death of the Emerald Isle’s patron saint. It’s been going on for approximately a century and takes place across the globe.
What’s the story behind the Day’s many and memorable traditions? Grab a pint of something and find out more…
Actually, you might want to put the drink down. Country Living draws our attention to Sober St. Patrick’s Day. Arguing that a party is fun, but being able to walk straight is better, the organization promotes a cleaner approach to the saint’s legacy.
If you are boozing, then chances are you’ll be knocking back a stout or two. Prof. Brenda Murphy of the University of Malta investigated Guinness’s deep-rooted connection to Ireland.
Where does it come from? The business’s major presence in the island nation, for one thing. Murphy discovered much anecdotal evidence regarding a love of the product. The misty-eyed fondness intensified with Irish folk overseas.
Green is the color of St. Patrick’s Day, reflecting both the event and the faces of those who drank too much stout. It wasn’t always like that, however.
The patron saint apparently favored blue. Mental Floss notes “it wasn’t until 1641—over 1000 years after St. Patrick’s death—that green began making a statement in Ireland.” How come? A little thing called the Irish Rebellion, where people rejected British rule and needed a color to prove it.
It’s a long-standing tradition to drink green pints and even take a trip on a green river. Dye is pumped into the waters in Chicago to quite literally make a splash on the big day.
Dishing it out
A plate of corned beef and cabbage is essential for many people celebrating the event. Though, as History writes, that type of meat “only began to be associated with St. Patrick’s Day at the turn of the 20th century.”
The traditional cabbage has also been accompanied by salt pork, a more affordable option back home. Beef first joined the mix in the Big Apple, where it was cheap enough for struggling Irish immigrants.
Fifty Shades of Grey star Jamie Dornan has an even more economical snack – the “Tayto Smashie.” He revealed to Jimmy Kimmel that corned beef was a poor reflection of St Patrick. A ham and potato chip sandwich on the other hand? No problem!
Dornan suggested using “Regular ham, the cheaper the better,” adding: “It all comes from the same animal.” Sliced white bread, a massive amount of mayo and a whole pack of cheese and onion flavored snack later and you’re good to go.
You may forget in all the reveling, but St. Patrick’s Day is a time of huge spiritual significance. Attending mass is much more important than stuffing yourself with corned beef and washing it down with beer. That’s the theory, anyway.
Irish Central says the hallowed celebration involves “offering prayers for missionaries worldwide even though St. Patrick was never officially canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church.”
Open your ears
The soundtrack to St. Patrick’s Day is unmistakable. History notes the tradition of making sweet noise goes back to the time of English oppression.
The native tongue was stepped on, but music proudly immortalized those turbulent years. Their rulers then banned the sound of fiddles and whistles, as music “often stirred emotion and helped to galvanize people,” the site states.
And where do those old compositions ring out today? At the multiple St. Patrick’s Day parades held worldwide. American cities are probably the best-known locations, due to the tradition starting in New York.
The parade has been featured in various movies, such as State of Grace (1990) with Sean Penn. Celebrations have been rattling windows there since the 18th century. Mental Floss writes that the idea of a public display was born through big Irish-American communities wanting to show off their sizeable populations.
It’s such an important part of US history that it started well over a decade before the Declaration of Independence was signed, writes the parade website.
Shamrocks go way back in Irish history, used by the Celts and associated with Spring, as History writes. Like the color green, the shamrock plant became a symbol of Irish identity in the face of authority from overseas.
And it was supposedly wielded by the patron saint himself! Mental Floss mentions its significance as a possible “teaching tool for Catholicism.”
Does much teaching go on with it these days? The shamrock is more part of a drinking ritual in recent times. Soaking it as part of a whiskey toast, the leaves are then thrown over your left shoulder. This reportedly brings good luck. Finger crossed!
Ever noticed how on St. Patrick’s Day, people gain a special sort of license? That license can be summed up in four immortal words: “Kiss me, I’m Irish!”
“Its origins are said to come from the Blarney Stone,” writes Country Living. That famous landmark has had many a pair of smackers planted on its weathered surface. Like with the shamrock, good fortune may follow. Though you maybe won’t get the same effect from locking lips with someone on St. Patrick’s Day!