Happy St. Patrick’s Day
- Dean Doughty
- March 17, 2015
Hope you’re wearing green or you’ll get pinched!
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated across the globe by the Irish and the Irish at heart! Green everything dances about on March 17th as leafy shamrocks and happy leprechauns are are strewn about for a very festive and historical day.
We decided that we would answer some of your lingering questions about St. Patty’s Day this year:
Who Was St. Patrick?
According to history (although we can never be sure) who we know as St. Patrick today (some call him Patty) was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Known as the “Apostle of Ireland”, he is the primary patron saint of Ireland, along with Saints Brigit and Columba.
According to the Confessio of Patrick, when he was about 16, he was captured by Irish pirates from his home in Britain, and taken as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. After becoming a cleric, he returned to northern and western Ireland. In later life, he served as an ordained bishop, but little is known about the places where he worked. By the seventh century, he had already come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland.
Why Green and Why Shamrocks?
On St Patrick’s Day it is customary to wear shamrocks and/or green clothing or accessories (the “wearing of the green”). St Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish.
***The colour green has been associated with Ireland since at least the 1640s, when the green harp flag was used by the Irish Catholic Confederation. Green ribbons and shamrocks have been worn on St Patrick’s Day since at least the 1680s
Ummmm….Leprechauns? The original Irish name for these figures of folklore is lobaircin, meaning small-bodied
fellow. In Irish mythology, a leprechaun is a type of male faerie said to inhabit the island of Ireland.
Leprechauns usually take the form of old men who enjoy partaking in mischief. Their trade is that of a cobbler or shoemaker. They are said to be very rich, having many treasure crocks buried during war-time. According to legend, if anyone keeps an eye fixed upon one, he cannot escape, but the moment the gaze is withdrawn, he vanishes!
And what’s the big deal with corn beef and cabbage??
Pork was the preferred meat, since it was cheap in Ireland and ubiquitous on the dinner table. The favored cut was Irish bacon, a lean, smoked pork loin similar to Canadian bacon. But in the United States, pork was prohibitively expensive for most newly arrived Irish families, so they began cooking beef—the staple meat in the American diet—instead.
But how did pork and potatoes become corned beef and cabbage?
Members of the Irish working class in New York City frequented Jewish delis and lunch carts, and it was there that they first tasted corned beef. Cured and cooked much like Irish bacon, it was seen as a tasty and cheaper alternative to pork.
And while potatoes were certainly available in the United States, cabbage offered a more cost-effective alternative to cash-strapped Irish families. Cooked in the same pot, the spiced, salty beef flavored the plain cabbage, creating a simple, hearty dish that couldn’t be easier to prepare!
For a green more fact on St. Patrick’s Day, click here!