Saint Patrick’s Day is commonly associated with Irish myths and fantasies of magical leprechauns, libations in copious volume, corned beef and cabbage, and the common pinch associated with not recognizing the holiday by wearing green that day. And though these are great ways to recognize the day, this year we’re going to celebrate the uncommon found on Saint Patrick’s Day.
Saint Patrick’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, The Day of the Festival of Patrick), is a cultural and Christian religious celebration occurring annually on March 17th — the death date of the most commonly recognized patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461).
But wait, Saint Patrick wasn’t even Irish. He was born in Britain. And, after escaping slavery by Irish marauders when he was 16 years old he returned to England to become ordained as a priest and then returned to Ireland to convert Irish Celtic pagans to Christianity.
The original color associated with St. Patrick is blue, not green as commonly believed. There’s a color named St. Patrick’s Blue, which originated from the country’s original flag. The use of green on St. Patrick’s Day began during the 1798 Irish Rebellion — some accredit its meaning to the greenness of the countryside while others say it’s the clover, the country’s symbol of nationalism.
Here’s a short video that explains the history of the Saint Patrick’s Day color.
There is a solid reason that alcohol has long been a tradition during this holiday. Since Saint Patrick’s Day began as a feast held in honor of Saint Patrick, the Christian religion has allowed believers to put aside their Lenten restrictions and consume as much alcohol as they’d like on this day.
Ironically from 1903 to 1969, Irish law declared Saint Patrick’s Day a religious observance for the entire country, meaning that all pubs were shut down for the day. The law was overturned in 1970, when the day was reclassified as a national holiday allowing the taps to flow freely once again.
One beer on tap everywhere on March 17th is the famous Irish stout, Guinness. On any given day 5.5 million pints are consumed around the world. Yet on Saint Patrick’s Day, that number rises to 13 million pints says Beth Davies Ryan, Global Corporate Relations Director of Guinness. Cheers to that!