Posted by: mariabro | March 18, 2013

The Luck of the Irish

ImageIt seems that this is the time of year when everyone claims to have a little Irish in them. Or at least they pretend they do, so they can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by hitting the local pub and drinking a pint or two of Guinness.

On an average day about 5.5 million pints of Guinness are consumed. That more than doubles on St. Patrick’s day to about 13 million pints. That’s enough to fill more than three Olympic-sized swimming pools.

GuinessDrinking those millions of pints are millions of revelers who would be hard-pressed to actually explain why they are celebrating, even experts like pub owner Ellen Brown, who says, “I know St. Patrick was English and found God while a prisoner in Ireland so it sounds like a good excuse to drink Guinness all day to me.”

Boston pub owner Mary O’Connor has her own beliefs: “Patrick was the patron saint of Ireland and he couldn’t stand being good during Lent each year. So he finally said forget it. Let’s have a day right in the middle of Lent so we can drink.”

I was surprised by the fact that Tokyo holds a rather large parade in Omotesando every year to honor the famous Irish saint. In fact, it is the largest St. Patrick’s parade in Asia and the first one to be held each year in the northern hemisphere.

But wherever you celebrate your Irishness, you’ll need to know a few facts so that you can pass for Irish and be served your green beer.

● St. Patrick was not actually Irish. He was born in Britain and moved to Ireland, first as a captured slave and then as a bishop to spread the gospel of Christianity.

●  Although many people believe St. Patrick drove snakes out of Ireland, this is actually a myth. It is true that Ireland has no snakes, but this was more because of geography and the ice age than anything St. Patrick did. Some religious scholars believe the myth was a metaphor for driving out evil as St. Patrick spread his message of Christianity.

● For more than 40 years, the city of Chicago has been dyeing the Chicago River green for St. Patrick’s Day.  The river is colored using an eco-friendly powdered vegetable dye that takes several days to dissipate.

● St. Patrick’s “official” color is blue, not green. Green became associated with the holiday during the 19th century, and is supposedly worn by fairies and leprechauns (who also have nothing to do with St. Patrick).

Finally, you will need a toast to impress your friends as you tip your glass of green beer. Try this one: “May the winds of fortune sail you. May you sail a gentle sea. May it always be the other guy, who says ‘This drink’s on me.’ “

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Responses

  1. What a great post! I just learned a lot about St. Patrick, and I’m part Irish and have actually been to Ireland! I sure as heck didn’t know his color was blue…associating green with Patrick has just become so synonymous that I couldn’t see it anything else. And I agree the snake story is apocryphal at best but it sure is a great metaphor. Happy St. Paddy’s Day to you and Erin Go Braugh!


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