Many believe it’s a day full of mythical things such as leprechauns and finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, are revered.
It turns out much about the day is in fact quite mythical!
Did you know….
- St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish? It’s true, he was born in Britain.
- St. Patrick was born Maewyn Succat and later changed his name.
- St. Patrick wasn’t really a saint! He was a bishop but was never canonized by the Catholic Church.
Legends say St. Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland, but the reality is, Ireland never had snakes. Surrounded by frigid water on all sides, the country has always been snake free. Some say the story of the snakes represents Patrick’s cleansing the island of paganism.
Another legend involves Patrick using the Shamrock and its 3 leaves to explain the holy trinity-the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. But, there is no such thing as a shamrock. When we think of shamrocks we’re actually thinking of other plants with 3 leaves - like a clover.
It is said that the Irish began to wear shamrocks (or clovers) on their clothing on March 17 to signify their Irish Christian pride. As time passed this has morphed into people wearing green to celebrate the holiday.
Like many holidays, St. Patrick’s Day is full of traditions. Many cities, particularly larger cities like New York and Chicago, kick off the day with a parade. The parade tradition started in the United States when many immigrants flooded the country fleeing the great potato famine. Legend says the first parade, in New York in 1762, was actually a group of soldiers marching down the street to a tavern. The parade in New York today is the longest St. Patrick’s Day parade anywhere with over 2 million spectators.
Many Irish Americans celebrate the day by dining on corned beef and cabbage. Why? The Irish immigrants were used to eating salt pork back home but, in the US the closest thing to salt pork was bacon which was too expensive. Corned beef was the next best option because it was traditionally a cheaper cut of meat that was salted and/or brined. Cabbage was one of the cheapest vegetables and was readily available and so the dish was born!
An Irish Blessing
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of his hand.