This March 17th, I’ll wake up and throw on my usual tee and yoga pants, only to be assaulted when I get downstairs by my husband and small children because I forgot to wear green. Why is wearing green such a big deal?
So, in pursuit of answers, I decided to take a gander around the internet and learn more about the day. It turns out St. Patrick’s Day is about a lot more than just dying the river, drinking dark beer, and trying to convince myself that I actually enjoy corned beef and cabbage.
- St. Patrick’s Day has become fairly popular when it comes to beer, but for most of the twentieth century you couldn’t be served beer in Ireland on March 17th. As a religious holiday (as it once was), pubs would have to close down in observation of the special day. This went on until the 1970’s. What, no Guiness??
- St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish! He was reportedly born in Banwen (part of Wales) and later kidnapped by the Irish. He would one day return to Ireland as a priest to spread Christianity.
- His name wasn’t even Patrick – it was Maewyn Succat. Really rolls off the tongue, right?
- St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland…only there’s no snakes in Ireland. It’s great symbolism though!
- Why shamrocks? That’s how St. Patrick explained the holy trinity, though some believe the shamrock actually has roots in pagan Irish history.
- Hallmark actually sells several million St. Patrick’s day cards per year. I for one have never sent one, but they appear to be fairly popular.
- A typical St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland would include boiled bacon. However, when Irish immigrants wanted to prepare their holiday dish in America, they found the beef brisket far more affordable. Paired with a cheap vegetable like cabbage, it became the go-to meal as a reminder of home.
- The largest St. Patrick’s Day parades are in Montreal and New York City, not Ireland.
- Shamrock shakes from McDonald’s really started with Philadelphia Eagles’ football player, Fred Hill. While his own daughter was being treated for cancer, he saw parents camping out around the hospital and felt they should have someplace more comfortable to stay. He received support from his coach and team, and later worked together with key McDonald’s associates, such as founder, Ray Kroc, to come up with funds. The shamrock shake was developed as a way to help earn funds for the first Ronald McDonald House. That makes the delicious shake guilt-free in my book!
- St. Patrick’s Day is actually celebrated all over the world, including countries such as Japan and Malaysia.