St. Patrick’s Day or The Feast of St. Patrick, as it is also referred to, is approaching.
I’ll be honest, up until a few years ago I didn’t know much about St. Patrick’s Day, other than drinking and wearing green, which I usually forgot to do, so I didn’t participate in the celebrating much. As a curious person, I am constantly asking who, what, when, where, why and how. I love a good themed reason to celebrate, but I also have a strong need to know a few things about what I’m celebrating before I jump right in to a full frenzy.
First things first. Why March 17th?
Why March 17th? March 17th is the date the Catholic church has agreed to recognize the death of St. Patrick. Traditionally, St. Patrick’s Day or The Feast of St. Patrick, is a cultural and religious celebration dating back to the 17th century. The date is a Public Holiday in The Republic of Ireland and is celebrated by many countries and provinces all over the world.
Most Saints are shaped from trauma or heartache and St. Patrick is no exception. Did you know St. Patrick wasn’t even born in Ireland? He wasn’t. He was kidnapped at the age of sixteen and taken to Ireland. During the six years he was in captivity he was a shepherd for Irish invaders.
During his time in captivity his faith GREW! I know! He believed God was telling him and urging him to escape. So he did. He walked hundreds of miles back to England. Even after all he had gone through his faith didn’t waiver, if anything, it was more steadfast. Once he had returned to England, he reported an angel visited him and told him to go back to Ireland and spread the gospel. So he did.
He lived among the people and learned their ways of life and about their needs, hopes and dreams, all while observing their cultural traditions. He accepted them.
Why Do We Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in America?
The first parade celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in America was March 17, 1762. The parade consisted of Irish soldiers who were serving in the English Army marching through the streets of New York.
Today, there are over 34 million U.S. residents who have Irish ancestry. That’s about seven times the total population of Ireland. WOW! New York and Boston host the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the United States to honor the Irish.
The Color Green
I used to say, because I would often forget to wear green, that I would like to punch whoever started that whole tradition. Because who wants to be pinched? No one! It seriously hurts. However, later in life I learned the folklore behind the tradition is that the pinch comes from a Leprechaun reminding you to wear green. But why green?
Traditionally, the knights in The Order of St. Patrick wore St. Patrick’s Blue. Wearing green is believed to have come about because supporters of Irish independence adopted the color for their cause in the 18th century.
Let’s talk about the booze, already!!!
Why so much drinking? Didn’t we go over the fact that St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in the church? Yes. Yes we did. Here’s the loophole, Lent restrictions on eating and drinking are lifted on St. Patrick’s Day. So it’s kind of like Spring Break for Lent. Seriously, this blows my mind a little bit.
St. Patrick showed great tenacity and endurance in escaping captors and finding his way back to England. He also showed forgiveness and empathy by going back to Ireland and living among the people.
It appears St. Patrick embodied compassion, forgiveness, empathy and lived by example. These characteristics are qualities I strive to exemplify in my daily life and because of this, I can get behind a day that celebrates this man.
So… How Should We Celebrate?
So how should we celebrate? Although I am neither Irish nor Catholic I love a good reason for a themed celebration. No matter your age I have a few traditional and non-traditional ways you can celebrate.
If you are celebrating with young children I can see where perhaps you wouldn’t necessarily want to delve into the depths of Irish history. However, while cooking up some green eggs and ham you could talk about the many virtues of St. Patrick. You could even list a few I mentioned earlier, compassion, forgiveness, empathy and ask the children for examples of these qualities in their own lives.
When whisking the eggs add a few drops of blue food color. The eggs are already yellow. By adding blue you are making green…color wheel. Children enjoy being in the kitchen and who doesn’t like watching something change colors!
PSA Announcement: Please don’t pinch. Just don’t. It hurts.
Pub crawls are a more traditional way to celebrate for those old enough to imbibe. Just a few thoughts on this, if you have a large crowd participating, call ahead and let the establishments know approximately the number in your group and the approximate time you plan on arriving. You want good service, so be a good patron. And don’t forget to download the apps Uber and Lyft to get a safe ride home. Be responsible.
If pub crawls aren’t your thing and you would rather stay in with friends to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I have the perfect idea for you….a beer pairing party.
Unlike wine, which only comes from grapes, craft beers are made with many different flavor factors. Chefs and brewers are looking a little more closely into beer and food or cheese pairings. An easy and inexpensive way to do this is to simply delegate. Pick your food choices and beer choices and have each person or couple provide a small sampling for the evening, “potluck” style! heehee
Maybe have pen and paper or cute pairing cards available for your guests to vote for or simply remember what they liked. I found a great visual here for pairing. You could even mention some of these interesting facts I’ve shared with you to keep the conversation going while you sample some great beers.
I am always looking for a way to celebrate and share with those I love. I challenge you to celebrate more! Celebrating the things you are grateful for and sharing the love with those around you definitely increases your quality of life.
If I left out an interesting bit of trivia or if you have a fun or inspiring St. Patrick’s Day story please let me know. I would love to hear from you!
Be you. Be beautiful. Be imperfect.