Saint Patrick's Day is coming up and in honor of it's widespread observance we've got a list of twelve interesting facts about the holiday and a list of five of our favorite traditional Irish dishes, adaptable to allergy-friendliness, to celebrate St. Patrick's Day 2018.
Twelve Great Facts About St. Patrick's Day
1. St. Patrick's Day is a Roman Catholic feast day that was established in the seventeenth century (that's the 1600s) to honor the patron saint of Ireland; it is a traditionally religious observance day.
2. St. Patrick was actually a Roman British monk, born Maewyn Succat, who felt a calling to minister to the pagan Celts in Ireland after his time as a slave on the island in his young adulthood.
3. According to legend, St. Patrick used the three-leaf clover (or the shamrock) to explain the Roman Catholic Holy Trinity to pagan Celts who believed in the supernatural power of the number three.
4. St. Patrick's Day is held on March 17th because it is believed to be St. Patrick's death day (c. 460 C.E.) and in Roman Catholic tradition feast days are held on the day of a saint's 'birth into heaven'.
5. St. Patrick was never canonized (officially granted sainthood) by a pope, however, he is honored not only in Roman Catholicism but several other branches of Christianity for his role in establishing and spreading Christianity throughout Ireland.
6. St. Patrick's Day is a day of celebration that falls during Lent which is a time of penitence; Lent restrictions are lifted for observers for this one day to honor St. Patrick and his contribution to Christianity.
7. Traditional observances of St. Patrick's Day involved attending mass, feasting on delicacies not normally allowed during Lent at a large family meal, and watching a community parade.
8. Drinking on St. Patrick's Day was frowned upon until the late 1970s and many pubs in Ireland were forced by law to shut down for the holiday. The popularity of binge drinking for St. Patrick's Day started when beer companies began a huge push in advertising in the 1980s, managing to convince the general public that drinking beer and St. Patrick's Day went hand-in-hand with Irish pride and tradition.
9. The first recorded St. Patrick's Day Parade took place in 1601 in St. Augustine, Florida; the first observance of St. Patrick's Day in the Thirteen Colonies (before the U.S. became independent) was held in Boston in 1737. The purpose in gathering was less a religious observance and more to honor their homeland.
10. During the American War of Independence, General George Washington actively encouraged Irish Americans to join the Continental Army (estimates suggest that at least one quarter of the army was Irish by birth or ancestry). On March 17th, 1780 he allowed his troops a holiday as an act of solidarity with the Irish in Ireland in their own fight for independence from Britain. This celebration was the beginning of the spread of the popularity of St. Patrick's Day and the transition of the holiday, and St. Patrick himself, from a traditionally religious representation to a symbol of Irish heritage and culture.
11. The first color associated with St. Patrick and his feast day was blue, called St. Patrick's blue. The color green and 'the wearing of the green', became associated with Irish nationalism when it was worn by Irish soldiers in two separate rebellions (150 years apart) against the British in their signature red. However, green was primarily a representation of the Catholic Irish, who were often fighting against their British-loyal Protestant countrymen; Protestant Irish were represented by the color orange.
12. The tradition of wearing green was steeped more in the belief of good versus bad luck rather than Irish nationalism; it was believed that wearing green would help a person blend in to the abundance of lush greenery in Ireland, thereby hiding from the mischievous doings of troublesome fairies or leprechauns. The pinching custom comes into play as a reminder that, when not wearing green, a person can be seen and plagued by impish fairies - the idea being if you pinch your friends and loved ones, they'll appropriately camouflage themselves from further bad luck.
5 Irish Dishes We Love For St. Patrick's Day
Every holiday and culture has particular traditional foods and the celebration of St. Patrick's Day and Irish heritage is no exception. While a huge portion of Irish cuisine seems to be laden with meat and gluten, it's not impossible to convert those loved dishes into allergy-friendly fare. Here are five of our favorite Irish dishes to celebrate the upcoming holiday.
1. Shepherdess Pie (recipe coming soon!) - the star of a good meal, this dish is more casserole than pie since there usually isn't any crust. While traditional shepherd's pie is made with minced lamb and variations known in Ireland as cottage pie are made with ground beef, the vegetarian version of this dish is called shepherdess pie. Stuffed with savory lentils and mushrooms and topped with fluffy, buttery-tasting mashed potatoes, this dish can be a meal in itself.
2. Colcannon - a very ancient traditional Irish dish, the ingredients vary somewhat depending on the region of Ireland but are generally potatoes or/and turnips, cabbage or/and kale, onions or shallots or leeks, garlic, salt and pepper. The ingredients can be boiled or roasted and mixed and mashed together. You could even top your shepherdess pie with colcannon.
3. Cabbage - we think shredded sauteed cabbage tastes better than the expected boiled versions and really all you need is a little avocado oil or vegetable broth, salt and pepper. Try adding some chopped carrots, onions and basil for more flavor depth. You could also try switching it up with some red cabbage and a dash of apple cider vinegar.
4. Champ - another simple side and possible topping for shepherdess pie, this dish is creamy mashed potatoes with scallions, salt and pepper.
5. Stout Pie and Potato Biscuits - made with mushrooms, kidney beans and gluten-free beer instead of beef and ale or Guinness, this hearty stew with biscuit toppings is the perfect conclusion to a cool March day and of course pairs perfectly with beer or even cider. You could also try substituting cauliflower or turnips for the potato in the potato biscuits.
What's your favorite Irish dish and what have you done to convert it for allergy-friendly enjoyment? Let us know in the comments below!
Wanna check out where we got our information? Here are a few of our online references:
Allan, Patrick. "The Real History of St. Patrick's Day." Lifehacker.com. https://lifehacker.com/the-real-history-of-st-patrick-s-day-1793354674
Francis, Michael. "Uncovering the Secrets of Spanish Florida." Pbs.org. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/blog/uncovering-secrets-spanish-florida/
Klein, Christopher. "George Washington's Revolutionary St. Patrick's Day." History.com. https://www.history.com/news/george-washingtons-revolutionary-st-patricks-day
Olver, Lynne. "Food Timeline FAQs: Irish Food History & Traditions."FoodTimeline.org. http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodireland.html.
O'Raifeartaigh, Tarlach. "Saint Patrick, Bishop and Patron Saint of Ireland." Britannica.com. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Patrick.
Waxman, Olivia B. "How Green Became Associated With St. Patrick's Day and All Things Irish." Time.com. http://time.com/4699771/green-irish-st-patricks-day-color/