St. Patrick's Day - March 17th

St. Patrick's Day is Ireland's greatest national holiday as well as a holy day. The date marks the anniversary of the death of the missionary who became the patron saint of Ireland. It is a happy holiday for the Irish wherever they may be - in Dublin, New York City, Boston or San Francisco. The day is celebrated with parades, speeches, festive dinners, and dances. Green is the color of the day, with thousands of little shamrocks worn even by those whose forefathers never touched the shores of Ireland.

It is known that St. Patrick, whose name is believed to have been Maewyn Succat, was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. At the age of sixteen, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders (pirates) who were attacking his family's estate. They transported him to Ireland where he was sold into slavery, spending the next six years in captivity. During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian.

After he escaped, Saint Patrick studied religion in Europe,then returned to Ireland to spread the Christian word there. He used the shamrock, which resembles a three-leafed clover, as a metaphor to explain the concept of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

Legend has it that Saint Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland -- that they all went into the sea and drowned. The snake was a revered pagan symbol, and perhaps this was a figurative tale alluding to the fact that he drove paganism out of Ireland.

The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place not in Ireland, but in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers to reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as fellow Irishmen serving in the English army. Suddenly, annual St. Patrick's Day parades became a show of strength for Irish Americans, as well as a must-attend event for a slew of political candidates. In 1948, President Truman attended New York City 's St. Patrick's Day parade, a proud moment for the many Irish whose ancestors had to fight stereotypes and racial prejudice to find acceptance in America.

Leprechauns

Leprechauns are little make-believe fairies from Ireland. They are the little old men who are shoemakers for the fairies. They usually stand about 2 feet tall. Treasure hunters can often track down a leprechaun by the sound of his shoemaker's hammer. The legend is that if you catch one you can force him to tell you where he hides his gold.

The Luck Of The Irish

** Finding a four-leaf clover
** The wearing of the green
** Kissing the blarney stone

The Blarney Stone is a stone set in the wall of the Blarney Castle tower in the Irish village of Blarney. Kissing the stone is supposed to bring the kisser the gift of persuasive eloquence. The legend says that an old woman cast a spell on the stone to reward a king who had saved her from drowning. Kissing the stone while under the spell gave the king the ability to speak sweetly and convincingly. It's difficult reach the stone. Kissers have to lie on their back and bend backward or downward, holding iron bars for support.

St. Patrick's Day Pinch

School children have started a little tradition of their own. They pinch classmates who don't wear green on this holiday. Wearing green is strictly a U.S. custom, as the color green is not popular in Ireland. Green is connected to the old green flag and a time when Ireland was not free.

Irish Tradition

Many people will be eating Irish food such as Irish Stew and Corned Beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day. Corned Beef is not an Irish dish. It is what Americans think the Irish eat. A more traditional meal would be ham and cabbage or bacon and cabbage. Some say that in Ireland on St. Patrick's Day the traditional green beer is prominent. However, in Ireland, many years ago, St. Patrick's Day is considered a holy day and Pubs were not open for business. There were no parades and no drinking.

And now for Cheddar Bay's annual St. Patrick's Day Recipe Pages. Just click on the year you want to see, and be sure to check back each year for more ways to celebrate being Irish!

           

Erin Go Bragh (Ireland Forever)