Love it, hate it, or don’t give a care about it – St.Patrick’s Day has always been a day that I’ve looked upon with fondness. Perhaps having a “Mc” last name helped, but I am sure that’s not all there is to it. It’s always had this sort of whimsical nature to it, and it is a sign that winter is on it’s last legs and it will soon be spring! In fact, it is quite often already pretending to be spring by St.Patrick’s Day so even more reason to feel all giddy and excited, especially when you live in a place that is covered in snow and ice for much of the year like we do here in Saskatchewan. In this week’s post I am going to look at a few key elements of one of my more favourite festive days of the year.
Why Do We Celebrate?
texture 123 by Max Stanworth used under Creative Commons License
I have found this can be quite the loaded question as not everyone shares my feelings on just exactly how whimsical this day is. There is apparently a lot of historical inaccuracies surrounding the day too. You can read all about the man, the myth, and what historians are now saying is the true story here, here, and here. My favourite explanations on why we celebrate have been that the traditions really evolved over here in North America as Irish immigrants “remembered the old country and wanted to have a day that they could be proud of. Because the Irish were treated very badly in North America by a lot of people..” and “It’s spread way beyond being a religious holiday or even being an Irish holiday and it’s just now, I think, the chance to celebrate the end of a long, cold winter,” (read the full article on that here). Wanting to have a day you can be proud of, and wanting to celebrate the coming spring after a hard winter are two things I think a lot of us can relate to.
Why Green Beer?
Guinness, Crown Float, Green Beer
While that’s a great question, I usually prefer to just order my Guinness and drink it in peace most of the time on St.Patrick’s day but for the sake of this blog post I sought out an answer. It turns out that like many of the St.Patrick’s day traditions we know and love over here in North America, this was created by an American, probably just for fun. I am all for being festive, but they usually use the cheapest, lightest beer and just add food colouring, so unless you usually go for cheap, light beers – they can be a little disappointing to the taste buds – I suspect that isn’t the point. I will admit, they are a lot of fun to look at and I am glad someone usually orders one so I can take fun pictures like the one above.
What’s the Deal With Leprechauns?
Leprechaun-001 by Chris Sheppard used under Creative Commons License
This is more in the realm of the whimsical that I spoke of earlier. They are a part of Irish folklore and were believed to be small, mischievous sprites who enjoyed playing tricks on people. They are also well known for having a treasured pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – although I am pretty sure a majority of us learned that from cereal boxes.
Why Do We Have to Wear Green?
“but not a real green dress, that’s cruel”
The easy answer is to avoid being pinched by opportunistic people. The longer answer is that in Celtic traditions they wore green to celebrate the Vernal Equinox or because the Catholic side in Ireland wore green or yet another explanation I’ve heard is that Ireland itself is associated with the colour green and St.Patrick’s Day is associated with Ireland and therefore, green. The favourite reason I’ve found so far for wearing green is that people believe that leprechauns can’t see you if you wear green, but if they do see you, they will pinch you. That seems a little strange since leprechauns are said to wear green themselves, but it’s still a pretty funny idea.
Ok Great, But What Should I Eat?
This picture makes me just want to eat it right now!
Corned beef and cabbage is a favourite, but a lot of the myth debunking sites I linked to earlier will tell you that isn’t the most authentic thing you could have. I would argue it’s authentic for a North American to be eating, and really eat whatever you want – I had chicken fingers with my Guinness when I went out this weekend with my friends to celebrate because I wanted to, I wasn’t too bothered that they weren’t very “Irish”. I did find this delicious recipe for beef stew on the Guinness website if you are feeling ambitious. I bet you could even throw this in a slow cooker and it would be ready when you got home from the pub. It sounds delicious! I prefer steak and kidney pie myself, but I recognize that organ meats aren’t at the top of the list for everyone. So give this tasty (non-organ meat containing) Guinness Beef Stew recipe a try.