Good day! We are delighted to welcome you to “Weird Wednesday,” a joint series, partnered with our friends at Layered Pages, that explores the quirky side of our universe. Presently many people across the world cannot access this fabulous place, and even in the best of times we often pass so much by in our haste to get wherever it is we may be headed. So sit down, relax a bit and allow us to bring some of our explorations to you. Here you may find things funny, outrageous, marvelous, fascinating, out of this world! Feel free to suggest topics and be sure to comment below and click to follow the blog. We’ll be having contests and lots of great content coming up, so be sure to stay tuned!
Over the years I’ve heard a lot of Irish people scorn American habits that supposedly reflect Irish ways or traditions, anywhere from corned beef cabbage to wearing o’ the green. “’Shannon,’” a Dubliner once told me, “is a name only Americans label their children with. This is not a truly Irish thing to do.” (Never mind that one of the nation’s busiest airports is called Sionainne, Irish for Shannon!) Well, did you know that even the St. Patrick’s Day celebration, which is yuuuuuuuuuge in America, is among that list of things the Irish don’t actually do? OK, they do it now, thanks to the realization that St. Patrick’s Day could be a great way to earn oodles of tourism dollars (among other reasons), but this fun and wonderful day, commemorating the life of St Patrick, is actually an invention of Ireland-loving Americans and immigrant Irish.
Many people know these days that St. Patrick, famous for ridding Ireland of snakes and bringing Christianity to the island, wasn’t actually Irish. Additionally, the color originally associated with his day was blue, but because he utilized the shamrock, a three-leafed clover once considered a sacred plant, to teach about the Holy Trinity, the association with green caught on.
Following are some more fun facts about this special day, now beloved the world over, thanks to the Irish diaspora as well as the friendly relationship Ireland has with many nations. It’s not difficult to admire the beauty of Ireland, so it’s also not really a surprise that internationally so many people have adopted many of the traditions that grew from the American St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. On March 17, we’re all a little Irish!
- While there seem to be some differences on the record as to when or who started St. Patrick’s Day parades, this one stands out: the 1601 celebration in St. Augustine, Florida, then a Spanish colony, was organized by an Irish cleric stationed there. Later celebrations sprang up in places such as Boston (famous today for its Irish population) and New York City, where Irish soldiers, immigrants and other ordinary Americans continued the tradition.
- Research indicates there have never actually been snakes in Ireland: the water surrounding the island is partly responsible, as well as the last glacial period and weather too cold for such reptiles.
- St. Paddy’s Day, as it is affectionately known in America, is widely seen the world over as a drinking holiday, but the day was once marked as a solemn one in which pubs across Ireland were closed to show respect to the saint. In the 1970s this changed, and the thing to do was attend mass in the morning and celebrate the rest of the day. If the holiday fell on Friday, the day’s non-meat restriction was lifted. Since St. Patrick’s Day falls during Lent, the days following the celebration were a return to Lenten observations.
- The tradition of corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day is an American innovation. Back home, Irish tended toward ham and cabbage, but Irish immigrants, notably in Lower Manhattan, many of whom lived in abject poverty, purchased cheap corned beef off returning trade ships. They boiled the meat three times to remove the brine, the last go round adding the cabbage, presumably to infuse the flavor.
- Relics of St. Patrick—the shrine of his jaw and a tooth—can be found today in the Dublin Museum, and his copy of the four gospels at the Royal Irish Academy.
More weird and wonderful facts about St. Patrick and his day, as well as history of the lovely island he made home, may be found here, here and here! It’s one of the most fun rabbit holes you may ever find yourself going down, and it may take a while, so perhaps grab a refreshment—green, if possible—and top o’ the morning to you!
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