It is St. Patrick’s Day! Bring out your green!
“There are only two kinds of people in the world, The Irish and those who wish they were.”An Irish Saying
St. Patrick’s Day, also known as Feast of Saint Patrick, St. Paddy’s Day, or St. Patty’s Day, is celebrated on March 17 every year. This year’s celebration will occur on Friday, March 17. The Irish holiday is a cultural and religious feast commemorating Saint Patrick, the famous Irish patron saint for bringing Christianity to Ireland.
During this holiday, Irish families religiously attend church in the morning and get into celebration in the afternoon. They are allowed to eat meat despite the Lenten prohibitions, dance, and feast on the traditional cabbage and Irish bacon meal.
Did you know that the Patron Saint of Ireland was not Irish? St Patrick was born in Roman Britain to a wealthy family in the 4th century but was kidnapped and brought to Ireland at 16 as an enslaved person. Though he escaped slavery, he returned to the country with an interest in Christianity and began to introduce other people to the religion. He is believed to have converted many Irish to Christianity, and Saint Patrick’s Day is commemorated on the day he supposedly died.
The History behind St. Patrick’s Day
Saint Patrick’s Day began as a Christian holiday and remained so. The holiday was established in 1632 as a reserved religious holiday to honor St Patrick for bringing Christianity to the Irish. Many people embraced the holiday since it gave them a break from the abstinence and restraints of the Lent period that led to Easter.
The celebration of the holiday in the US is highly connected to Irish Immigrants. In the 1700s, parades sprung up in all the major cities in the US, including New York City and Boston. The festivities of St. Patrick’s Day continued to increase in the US as the Irish population continued to grow in the country. Since the 1900s, Americans have celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by wearing green clothes, eating cabbage and corned beef, and attending massive parades nationwide.
By the 20th century, it had gained more popularity among Americans. It also became a marketing bonanza for imported Irish shamrocks, greeting cards, food and drinks, and anything green! Something else came up; Americans became obsessed with drinking green beer on St. Patrick’s Day. These modern phenomena are not firmly rooted in the Irish tradition. Fortunately, the Irish aren’t complaining!
13 Quick Facts about St Patrick’s Day
- St Patrick was Romano- British Christian missionary in the 5th century
- St. Patrick’s real name was Maewyn Succat
- March 17 is the day when Saint Patrick died
- St Patrick’s Day commemorates Saint Patrick for bringing Christianity to Ireland.
- People also celebrate the culture and heritage of the Irish during this holiday.
- According to the US Census, 650 000 newborn babies are named after St. Patrick annually.
- About 450o churches in America are named after St Patrick.
- It takes 40 pounds of green dye to turn the Chicago River green for St. Patty’s Day.
- The president of Ireland gives the American president a crystal bowl of shamrocks on each St Patrick’s Day.
- There were no snakes in Ireland for St Patrick to banish
- The odds of finding a four-leaf clover are 1 in 10,000
- About 34 million residents of the US claim to have Irish roots.
- St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t recognized as a public holiday until 1904
8 Popular Traditions for St. Patrick’s Day
1. Going ‘Green.’
You probably see green everywhere on St. Patrick’s Day: Green beer, green Chicago River, green-labeled clothes, green hats, green milkshakes, green bead necklaces, etc. But do you know why we wear green during this holiday?
Many Americans associate the green color theme with the verdant landscape of the country, the fairy story of the leprechauns’ creatures, and the shamrock. However, the color theme is linked to Irish political history. The Irish Americans wore green as a reminder of their nationalist. The Irish flag is made up of three colors – green (a symbol of nationalism), white (a symbol of peace), and orange (symbolizes the Orangemen of the north).
2. Corned Beef and Cabbage
Millions of people gather every St Patrick’s Day for an Irish corned beef and cabbage meal, but only a few understand how the menu has become a centerpiece of St Patty’s Day. Historians say Irish people could not afford beef because it was served to the rich and exported. After migration to America, they found a readily available and affordable alternative, corned beef and cabbage. They substituted corned beef for beef and cabbages for potatoes.
3. Pinch me; I’m Irish
Don’t be surprised if you get a pinch on St Patrick’s Day; you forgot to wear green! This is entirely an American tradition that began in the early 1700w. The revelers of the holiday believed that wearing green made one invisible to leprechauns (fairy creatures). These creatures would pinch anyone not wearing green since they were visible to them. People pinch green abstainers as a reminder that leprechauns could sneak up and pinch them.
4. Dying Chicago River Green
For over 60 years, Chicago people have dyed the city’s river green in honor of St. Paddy’s Day. Many residents and tourists gather during the holiday to watch the river turn a vibrant green. Other cities have also borrowed the idea of dyeing their local waterways green on St. Patrick’s Day, but nothing beats the unique spectacle of the Chicago River.
Did you know that plumbers started the tradition of dying the river? Chicago plumbers used bright green dye in the 1960s to identify pipe leaks. According to a CNN report, the tradition began in 1962 when some festive plumbers from the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union dumped 100 pounds of the green dye into the Chicago River. According to the Illinois Office of Tourism, the river turned green for a week, creating a fantastic phenomenon.
Shamrocks are a common type of clover with three-leaf clovers on one stem. The ever-green plant is an iconic symbol in the St Patrick holiday since it is believed that St Patrick used it to explain the holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) when preaching. It was considered a sacred plant in the 1700s since it symbolized the rebirth of spring and was also associated with good luck. Today people pin fresh shamrock or shamrock emblems on their clothes to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. Many people also associate shamrocks with good luck.
6. Irish Music
Traditional Irish music is highly associated with St Patrick’s Day and the Irish culture. Since the ancient times of the Celts, music has been considered a significant part of Irish life. The Celts used oral cultures, such as songs and stories, to pass their history and belief from one generation to another. Irish music is famed worldwide for its beautiful melodies, lively beats, and long, haunting past.
7. The Snake
It is believed that St Patrick once stood on a hilltop while in one of his Ireland mission and, holding just a wooden staff, banished all the snakes from Ireland. The island was never home to snakes, and the ‘banishing of the snakes’ ideology was meant to eradicate pagan ideology and uplift Christianity in Ireland. Ireland was fully Christianized 200 years after St Patrick’s arrival.
Leprechauns are folklore figures believed to be small-bodied fellows with magical powers to do good or evil. They were displayed in Celtic folktales as cranky souls responsible for mending other fairies’ shoes. They were also associated with trickery and power that they used to protect their treasures. People celebrate leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day by dressing like wily fairies.
20 Authentic Ways to Celebrate St Patrick’s Day
1. Bake Irish Soda Bread
Irish Soda bread is Ireland bread whose origin dates back to the early 1800s. The recipe allowed people that did not have an oven to make bread. Today people have a lot of fun recreating traditional soda bread with an oven. Search for Irish Soda bread online and have fun baking this St Paddy’s holiday.
2. Prepare an Irish Meal
There are tons of Irish-inspired delicacies out there that can make your family’s celebration more authentic. Some popular meals include corned beef and cabbage, traditional stew, and two cups of Guinness.
3. Wear Green
Only let St Patty’s Day come and go with rocking at least one of your green clothing. Besides avoiding random pinches, wearing green, even with a simple green accessory, is an excellent way to honor the day. You could also pin some fresh, green shamrocks on your clothing if you don’t have green clothing.
4. Decorate shamrock-shaped cookies
You don’t have to wait until the Christmas holiday to decorate cookies. Gather your children for a shamrock cookie decoration contest. You can reward the winner with some extra cookies after Dinner. In this activity, you will require green icing, green sprinkles, and a shamrock cookie cutter.
5. Attend a St Patrick’s Day Parade
St. Patrick’s Day parades are held in almost all parts of the country, including in big cities and smaller towns. Search online or enquire from people around you about the parades within your locality, and select one to attend. While the Covid-19 pandemic hindered parades in the last two years, we expect them to return this year, 2023.
6. Engage in St-Patrick’s Craft
You can make this holiday a big deal by allowing your children to practice some artwork. Using cheap materials, you can ask them to make hats, wreaths, and shamrock-shaped plates. You can ask them to decorate the house with their finished products.
7. Bake Something Green
Baking is an excellent activity for kids. It is even more fun when you are baking something green. Ensure you use non-toxic food coloring for baking, not ol’green dye.
8. Make St Patrick’s Day cards
One of the easiest ways to make someone’s day is by sending them cards. Make some hand-made St Patrick’s Day Cards and send them to your family, friends, church, or children at a local hospital. This way, you shall have fun and still cause many people to smile.
9. Watch an Irish Movie
You could spend the day or night with your kids watching some St Patrick’s Day movies at home. Queue some of the best Emerald Isle films and ones that are centered on Irish themes and characters, like the 2015 drama Brooklyn, The Secret of Roan Inish, The Luck of the Irish, or The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns. Make the viewing more interesting by bringing some green snacks such as tasty Leprechaun Chow.
10. Read some Irish poetry
Ireland is popular for birthing some of the most famous writers. You can read some of their literary histories through poetry. Visit the library with your children and encourage them to choose some poetry books. You can also find some free audio online, such as the works of Samuel Beckett, Seamus Heaney, and W.B. Yeats, on Spotify and enjoy Irish poetry.
11. Search for Four-leaf Clover
Many traditions believe that finding a four-leaf clover brings luck. This belief may be boosted by its rareness. Engage your children in searching for a four-leaf clover, and give simple rewards to anyone who finds one.
12. Bake some Festive Desserts
This holiday satisfy your sweet tooth by baking some sweet, festive treats. This could include green cupcakes, shamrock-shaped cookies, matcha snowball cookies, shortbread squares, and green-colored popcorn; the list is endless!
13. Stay Sober
While St Patrick’s Day is associated with drinking beer, you could divert from that tradition by staying sober. Instead, look for activities and events within your locality that celebrate St. Patrick’s legacy and Irish culture. For example, you could listen to Irish traditional instruments like the accordion and fiddle or watch Irish dancing.
14. Plan a Scavenger Hunt
This is a great and fun activity for the entire family. Set up a scavenger hunt in the backyard with clues leading to sweet treats like candies or chocolate coins. You could also hide clover stickers in different places within the house and have your children look for them. Motivate your children to keep looking since this outdoor activity is fun and suitable for their physical health.
15. Donate to Charity
St. Patrick’s Day is a great day to do a good deed. You could give back to charities supporting the environment, religious institutions, or any other cause of your choice.
16. Go on a Walk
You don’t have to remain indoors during this holiday, especially if it is not too chilly outside. Pack some snacks and spend some time out with your children. You could play an Irish playlist or invite friends as you enjoy the walk.
17. Incorporate a Green Vegetable in your Dinner
You can incorporate green veggies into St Patrick’s Day dinner (if possible, every day). Tell your children than Leprechauns appreciate everything green and that you prepared their favorite meals. Try Brussels sprouts, peas, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, and cucumbers. You can reward picky eaters with a chocolate gold coin chaser for every effort they make to eat the green vegetables.
18. Make Green Carnations
Did you know you can turn white carnations to whichever color you want? Since it is St. Patrick’s Day, we shall turn them green. Fill a vase with water and add a few drops of green food coloring. Slightly trim the flower stems and place them into the vase. Now watch the green water slowly make its way up the stem and into the petals, turning them green.
19. Embrace a Greener Life
St. Patrick’s Day is an excellent opportunity to teach your kids about the environment and what we can do to conserve it. For example, you can encourage them to take shorter showers, use reusable bottles and reusable bags when shopping, buy energy-efficient appliances, walk or ride a bicycle instead of driving, and shut off all electronics that are not in use.
20. Learn an Irish Dance
There is no better way of ‘becoming Irish’ on St Patrick’s Day than learning an Irish dance. Irish dancing is a type of step dancing that is popular worldwide. You could invite your family and friends to learn new moves, burn calories together, and increase flexibility.
20 Irish Quotes to Celebrate St Patrick’s Day
- “May the roof above us never fall in, and may we friends beneath it never fall out.” – Irish Toast
- “If you work, if you wait, you will find the place where the four-leaf clovers grow.” —Ella Higginson
- “May the enemies of Ireland never eat bread nor drink whiskey, but be afflicted with itching without the benefit of scratching.”- Irish Saying
- “You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind.”- Irish Proverb
- “You’ve got to do your growing, no matter how tall your father was.” – Abraham Lincoln
- “The Irish do not want anyone to wish them well; they want everyone to wish their enemies ill.”- Harold Nicolson.
- “May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks; May your heart be as light as a song; May each day bring you bright, happy hours that stay with you all the year long.”- Paul Walker.
- “Everybody is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, but if your name is Eisenhower, you’ve got to wear something green to show it.” —Dwight D. Eisenhower.
- “May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow, and may trouble avoid you wherever you go.” – Irish Proverb
- “Being Irish is very much a part of who I am. I take it everywhere with me.” — Colin Farrell.
- “The amount of good luck coming your way depends on your willingness to act.” —Barbara Sher.
- “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” —Thomas Jefferson.
- “We are all a great deal luckier than we realize; we usually get what we want—or near enough.” —Roald Dahl.
- “Ireland has always been the home of the dreamer, the poet, and the storyteller.” —Jordan Richard.
- “Be sure to wear green on March seventeen, or else Irish leprechauns pinch your bones clean!” —Richelle E. Goodrich.
- “When you make a wee wish on a green four-leafed clover, may your belly stay full and your cup runneth over.” —Richelle E. Goodrich
- “We survive. We’re Irish. We have the souls of poets. We love our misery; we delight in the beauty of strange and dark places in our hearts.” —Ellis Flynn.
- “May everything turn green today, except your gills!” —Lester B. Dill
- “A wish for a kiss on St. Patrick’s Day! Catch a leprechaun but don’t let him run. Nay, kiss him right away!” —Richelle E. Goodrich
- “To be Irish is to know that in the end, the world will break your heart.” —Daniel Patrick Moynihan
St Patrick’s Day FAQs
Is St Patrick a public holiday in Ireland?
Yes, it is. St Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in Ireland and the most important day in their cultural holiday. They commemorate the Day by hosting events thought the country in honor of the nation’s patron saint.
Is St. Patrick’s a federal holiday in the US?
St Patrick’s Day is not recognized as a federal holiday in the US. Schools, organizations, and businesses are open and usual, and public transport systems run on their regular schedules. However, there may be some traffic disruption due to the parades running to honor the day.
What do real Irish eat on St. Patty’s Day?
Real Irish eat bacon and cabbage, unlike Americans and Immigrants who eat corned beef and cabbage. They may also eat soda bread and griddle potato farls.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day from the entire Kids on the Yard team!
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