How to Celebrate Everyone’s Favorite Irish Holiday
St. Patrick’s Day is an Irish cultural and religious holiday celebrated annually on March 17th. It is a day to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick, and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. Originally known as “Maewynn Succat”, the man that would become St. Patrick was born in Britain during the 5th Century. He lived a fascinating life that included being captured by pirates as a teenager. During his imprisonment, he discovered his calling as a religious man and upon escape would become a missionary focusing on the Emerald Isle.
Over time, many diverse and interesting traditions have become associated with St. Patrick’s Day.
Perhaps the most well-known St. Patrick’s Day tradition is wearing green. It is believed that wearing green makes you invisible to leprechauns, mischievous creatures from Irish folklore. In many parts of the world, people celebrate by wearing green clothes or accessories, including hats, scarves, and jewelry. A cheeky tradition involves pinching anyone not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day as a reminder of a sneaky leprechaun.
However, there is one place where you might find more orange clothing than green on March 17th. Those who hail from Northern Ireland opt for orange as a nod to their Protestant roots.
St. Patrick’s Day parades are a tradition in many cities around the world, especially in the United States. In fact, the very first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in St. Augustine, Florida in 1601! By contrast, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade in Ireland wasn’t held for another 300 years.
Montreal, Canada first celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a parade in 1824. Recent revelers include Tokyo, Japan (since 1992); Auckland, New Zealand (since 1995); and Oslo, Norway (since 2000).
The largest St. Patrick’s Day parade is held in New York City, where thousands of participants march down Fifth Avenue, drawing millions of spectators every year.
Irish Food and Drink
On St. Patrick’s Day, many people enjoy traditional Irish food and drinks. Corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew, and white and black puddings are popular dishes in Irish pubs around the world. With simple, straightforward recipes, Irish cuisine is all about the quality of ingredients. Irish bacon rashers have significantly less fat than the American counterpart; ditto that for sausages.
For drinks, people often opt for a dark pint of Guinness or Irish whiskey. Some 13,000,000 pints of Guinness are consumed annually on this single date.
Some will even combine their love of food and drink. It isn’t uncommon to find a delicious pot of Irish beef and Guinness stew in Irish kitchens.
The shamrock, a three-leafed plant, is a symbol of Ireland and a significant part of St. Patrick’s Day. According to legend, St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish people. Many people wear or display shamrocks on St. Patrick’s Day and consider the rare four-leaf clover a symbol of extra luck.
A popular, less “traditional” item available in the United States is the seasonal Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s. This frozen dairy dessert doesn’t have much in common with shamrocks apart from being green (it tastes more like mint), but it is still an annual fast food favorite.
Celtic Music and Dance
Music and dance are essential parts of Irish culture, and they are often incorporated into St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Traditional Irish music, such as jigs and reels, is played at many events, and Irish step dancing, a type of dance that emphasizes precise footwork, is often performed.
Michael Flatley and Riverdance are just one of the many popular dance troops that travel the world, sharing the culture of the Emerald Isle. Amateur dancers often participate in their local parade.
St. Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday, and many people attend church services to honor the patron saint of Ireland. In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday, and many businesses and schools are closed. In fact, pubs were required to be closed in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day until as recently as the 1970’s. Many Irish people treat the day with reverence and extended prayer.
However, while some Catholic churches outside of Ireland hold St. Patrick’s Day vigils, the holiday is now hailed more as a cultural celebration than a religious one.
Leprechauns are mischievous creatures from Irish folklore. According to legend, leprechauns are small, old men who dress in green and are skilled shoemakers. They are also said to have a pot of gold hidden at the end of a rainbow.
A popular children’s activity, at home and in school, is to construct “leprechaun traps” in hopes to be rewarded with gold. More often than not, children will find candy or gold coins in their trap as a token from their parents—er, the “trapped” leprechaun.
From Ireland to the United States
If you’re looking for an authentic way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, you can’t go wrong with Tommy Moloney’s. We stand apart from the crowd with our commitment to all-natural products and emphasize sustainability, taking cues from Ireland, itself.