Monday, March 17, 2014

Pinch Me, I'm Irish


Like many Americans, my ancestry is a mish mash, - a heinz 57 of ancestry, if you will.  I know I have Irish ancestry as well as English, German, and Native American and I'm sure there are others.  But today, St. Patrick's Day, I'm going to celebrate my Irish ancestry!  If you want to celebrate too, pin on a shamrock, grab a plate of corned beef and cabbage along with a pint of Guinness and watch out for Leprechauns while I share a little info on these traditions.

St. Patrick

In case you did not know, St. Patrick was not actually Irish. He was a nobleman born in about 400 A.D. in Britain and kidnapped by Irish pirates at the age of 16. He was born into a religious family, but was an atheist early in his life. However, he rediscovered his faith while enslaved in Ireland. After 17 years as a slave, he escaped Ireland and found his way home, but later returned to Ireland as a missionary saying he was ready to die in Ireland in order to make his mission successful. It's unclear if St. Patrick did in fact die in Ireland, but March 17 is widely believed to be the day of his death.

St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day began as a religious holiday in Ireland but became a celebration because of Irish Americans.  In the United States, St. Patrick's Day was first celebrated with banquets at elite clubs in Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Charleston, S.C., and Savannah, Ga. New York City hosted the first St. Patrick's Day parade in 1762, and by the mid-19th century parades were common.

Shamrocks

The shamrock is used to represent St. Paddy's day because according to St. Patrick's Day lore, Patrick used the three leaves of a shamrock to explain the Christian holy trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Traditions as early as the 17th century incorporated the plant, people wore shamrocks on their coats and closed the day by "drowning the shamrock" — placing it in a glass of whiskey before drinking.

Leprechauns

There's also the Irish fairy Cluricaune, a cunning spirit who haunts cellars, drinks, smokes and plays tricks, -or a leprechaun. Today's leprechauns are usually rosy-cheeked, boozy little men in green attire with their pot of gold buried beneath the end of the rainbow.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Although a classic St. Patrick's Day meal, corned beef and cabbage is more American than Irish. Irish Americans in the 19th century were mostly poor. The most affordable meat available was corned beef, and cabbage was a spring vegetable and it's cheap.

Guinness

Well, because it's an Irish stout making it the drink of choice on St. Patrick's Day.

Wearing Green and Getting Pinched

Today we associate the color green with this holiday, but that color has not always been the color used. Blue was the color originally associated with St Patrick's Day, but since Ireland’s nickname is “The Emerald Isle” and because of the green in the flag and the shamrock Patrick used in his teachings about Catholicism, these things played a big role in why green is the color used on this day. As far as the pinching goes, there is a legend that wearing green on this day makes you invisible and therefore leprechauns can’t pinch you because they can’t see you.

So, do you celebrate St. Paddy's Day?  Do follow these traditions or do something different?  Do you have Irish ancestry?


3 comments:

  1. I always enjoyed St. Patrick's day as a child, but as a Protestant I'm supposed to wear orange and not green not really sure why. But instead I like to mix green with orange and so on because I adore my Scottish and Irish heritage!

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    1. I am a protestant myself. I think the orange comes from Ireland's flag. The catholics wear green, protestants orange, and the white represents the peace between the two. I like your idea of wearing a mixture of green and orange, I may do that next year!

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  2. How very interesting that blue was the colour first associated with this special day. I lived in Ireland for two years and never heard that, so I suspect it may be a fact that has been lost to many over the years. Thank you for sharing it - I may just have to incorporate some blue into my March 17th outfit next year to honour this fact.

    ♥ Jessica

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