Well done; you’ve made it through the toughest part of the year. January and February are among the most vicious and unforgiving months of the twelve—as we all round the corner of the holidays, eager and willing to initiate a year of progress and hope, good ol’ 1 and 2 are ready to remind you that the weather is still terrible and that there are no holidays at the beginning of the year (no, Valentine’s Day doesn’t count).
That’s okay though! We’ve made it. The days are getting longer every day. The local farmers markets are opening again, and the beaming sun is coaxing the rose bushes to open their buds…Unless you live in the western U.S., that is—which has been caught in the midst of an unimaginable rain streak for a month or so now—but that’s beside the point. It’s time to end all of the grim and grueling gray that’s been plaguing our skies for months. That’s right, its spring time, and that means green.
And that means…
St. Patrick’s day.
Ah-ah, friend; put those dumb beer-shaped glasses and novelty beard away, we aren’t doing that quite yet. In fact, maybe we’re all a bit out of touch with what St. Patrick’s signature day is all about. Would he have wanted you getting drunk on green beer and fist-fighting your uncle? Probably not. I’m not saying we can’t all have a good time this March 17th; but maybe we should educate ourselves first – so grab your glass of Jameson, get comfy and learn a thing or two you never knew about St. Paddy’s Day.
St. Patrick’s Day Wasn’t Always a Drinking Holiday
Weird, huh? Turns out Saint Patrick was an actual saint at some point, and not just a jaunty advocate for chugging things. Patrick, according to a tale that he wrote up himself called the Declaration, was kidnapped by raiders, spent a lucrative piece of life as a shepherd (as many future-religious figures tend to do), became a priest, taught Ireland Christianity, and took care of a little snake problem that Ireland apparently had (National Geographic says they never had any snakes). So revered was he, in fact, that pubs around Ireland in the 20th century would close (as well as other businesses, of course) to commemorate the life and times of the patron saint of the Irish…oh right—
The Iconic Green Shamrocks Were Tools for Patrick’s Conversion
As St. Patrick and his (assumed) following of (not metaphorical) sheep traversed the country spreading the good book hither and yaw, he ran into a small issue that we still come across today; and that is that Irish people are nigh impossible to communicate with. Presumably befuddled by their cluttered accents, (you know I’m just joking Irish, folks, we all love it) St. Patrick turned to the local foliage to support his message. Fortunately, the weeds strewn about the Irish landscape happened to be of the three-pronged sort, and so he was able to use them to explain the concept of the holy trinity to the Pagan Irish of the fourth century. How did a leaf serve as the only missing link in communication between ol’ Pat and the Irish? No idea. But, when people started wearing said leaves on their lapels after meeting Saint Patrick…
We Only Wear Green Because of a Communication Error
Okay, this one’s kind of a long story, so I’ll try to boil it down as much as possible. St. Patrick’s original style was more blue than green. Ireland’s national vibe didn’t take a turn for the green until about 1680; so there’s no real association there. However, a popularized street ballad by the name of The Wearing of the Green lamented the treatment of Irish people who would sporty shamrocks on their collars following the Irish Rebellion of 1798. As such the “wearing of the green” turned into a cheeky idea that those who are/support Irish folks or are about to/already have drank a lot should sport a color that’s—let’s be honest—uncomplimentary most of the time.
The Tradition of Drinking Whiskey En Masse is a Religious One
Aha! I knew I had forgotten to mention something on this; a wine, spirits and beer website— the drinking part!
It’s no secret that people like to tear it up a little bit on St. Patty’s day. In fact, for a stint, we upset the Irish people very deeply by depicting their culture as the sort who fall down in the street. But why? It’s neither a sad holiday, nor one where you have to interact with your family, so why bother with the binging? Well, think of when March 17th lands– other than a great time to visit your Grandparents because plane tickets are cheap because the whole world is cold and sad and there’s nothing going on—Lent.
See, most places around Europe, St. Patrick’s Day is a church holiday. That means, for some reason, folks in olden times gave themselves a cheat day visa-vis drinkin’ a bunch. Combine that with Whiskey being Ireland’s national drink, and wham-bam-pow, you’ve got yourself a holiday.
There ya go. Maybe when your friends and family are gathered around the barbecue, you can be the one to drop all this fun knowledge and explain to your uncle who’s dressed as a leprechaun that he’s misappropriating an entire culture. Fun!