The time of year for all things green and Guinness is quickly approaching. A beloved celebration for Irish-Americans as well as all fans of rollicking and revelry, St. Patrick’s day is celebrated by many, and yet relatively few know the history behind the holiday. Let’s take a closer look at this Ireland-inspired observation, along with highlighting a few tips for embracing your inner Irish this March 17th.
The History Behind the Holiday
St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just about shamrocks and parades. In fact, according to Luther College Classics Professor Philip Freeman, “The modern celebration of St. Patrick’s Day really has almost nothing to do with the real man.” And here’s the really mind-blowing part. St. Patrick himself wasn’t even Irish!
So what are we celebrating when we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? The establishment of the Christian church in Ireland. And while historians do agree that St. Patrick must have been a compelling speaker in order to have spread his teachings so successfully throughout Ireland, they also agree that he was not responsible for the legendary feat often attributed to him: driving the snakes out of Ireland. In fact, Ireland never had snakes to begin with due to its unique geography.
But St. Patrick’s heritage and story aren’t the only things most people have wrong about the holiday. Take the color green, for example. While celebrants proudly don their most verdant finery, St. Patrick’s color was actually blue. Green had nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day until much later when it become associated with the holiday because of Ireland’s “Emerald Isle” nickname.
And then there’s the beer. As it turns out, Americans are the ones who made drinking part of the St. Patrick’s Day tradition. In fact, St. Patrick’s Day was “dry” in Ireland until 1970!
Not only that, but the St. Patrick’s Day Americans know and love today is more of an Irish-American holiday than an Irish one. Because while it may honor St. Patrick in name, its purpose is more about celebrating the collective Irish identity than the accomplishments of one man.
One meal rises above the rest when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day feasts: Corned beef and cabbage. But as it turns out, this “traditional” meal is not any more authentic than many other components of the American St. Patrick’s Day celebration. The meal of choice for the Irish was actually pork and potatoes but morphed when it arrived stateside. That said, generations of Irish-Americans have enjoyed this meal over the years imbuing it with an entirely different kind of authenticity.
And while corned beef and cabbage may be the go-to main course of choice, there are many sweet ways to celebrate — from shamrock-shaped cookies to Irish cream ice cream.
Ultimately, while St. Patrick’s Day may not be the best-understood holiday in the American calendar, it is certainly one of the most beloved. And whether you’re 100 percent Irish or simply Irish at heart, one day out of every year, mail order food makes it easier than ever to get out of the kitchen and in on the fun. Shop foods for St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and any day of the year, at FoodyDirect.