On March 17th every year, the whole world turns Irish, despite their heritage! It truly seems that every culture embraces the magic and mystery of those who lived on the Emerald Isle, so we have some tips and traditions to help you embrace this magical holiday to the best of your abilities. So, grab a Guinness and learn how some of that luck ‘o the Irish can rub off on you.
You might be surprised to know that Saint Patrick wasn’t even Irish, or called Patrick! Important historical figures are frequently shadowed by the myths and legends attributed to them over the course of centuries. Saint Patrick is no exception. However, most historians agree that Maewyn Succat, later to be known as Saint Patrick, was born on the 17th of March around the year 370 A.D. Legends have surrounded this man who eventually became a Bishop. It was said that he drove snakes out of Ireland! Although historians state this was more likely an expression that referred to driving out the pagan influences in Irish culture. He also supposedly made the shamrock famous by using it as a tool to teach about the Holy Trinity. What originally began as a feast day in his honor in the early Christian church has now taken on more modern traditions. Evolving into a celebration of all things Irish.
Shamrocks and Whisky instead of Green Tequila and Worms
Shamrocks and four leave clovers are considered a sign of good luck. However, in Ireland there is a little more to the tradition than simply finding one. “Traditionally, the shamrock was dunked into a glass of whiskey, the whiskey was then drunk, and the shamrock at the bottom of the glass thrown over the drinker’s left shoulder,” says Christine Kinealy, PhD, director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute and professor of history at Quinnipiac University. “Allegedly, it was St. Patrick himself who first dunked the shamrock in the glass of whiskey, after wearing it during his feast day—but this is highly unlikely as he died on March 17, before the day was celebrated.”
Satan and Soda Bread
Irish soda bread is delicious and plentiful during march. No matter how delicious it is if a cross hasn’t been cut into the top you’re losing the “luck” of this tradition. For the bread to be lucky, you have to cut a cross on the top “to let the devil out,” as well as to release steam during cooking, a superstition that both the Irish and Irish Americans hold, Kinealy says. “In both Christian and pagan (Celtic) traditions, the cross is meant to ward off the devil and protect the household.
Back away from the Corn beef and Cabbage
In Gaelic Ireland, cattle were symbols of the wealthy and were only killed when they were too old or were no longer able to produce milk. There were more pigs kept in Ireland than cows, so more pork and bacon was consumed than beef. It was much more common to find dishes involving Irish bacon (cured pork) than corned beef.