St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th everywhere in the world with an Irish community. But who was Saint Patrick?
Who Was St. Patrick?
According to the legend surrounding Saint Patrick, he was actually a British Roman-because Britain was under Roman rule in the 5th century. His real name was Maewyn Succat.
He was taken to Ireland as a captive and made into a slave. He escaped and went back to Britain. The story goes that he had a dream that he was supposed to become a Catholic priest and go back to Ireland to teach Christianity to the people there. So, he entered the church and became a priest.
Afterwards, he changed his name to Patricius (or Patrick) and headed back to Ireland. The name he chose comes from the Latin term for “father figure.”
March 17 of 493 AD is when he is said to have died.
The celebration was championed by an Irish Franciscan friar, named Luke Wadding, in 1631. He was from Waterford, Ireland, and originally intended it to be a traditional day of spiritual renewal.
Annual celebrations of Saint Patrick’s Day in America were said to have started in Boston in the late 1800’s. But research has found that the first celebration was actually in Saint Augustine, Florida…in 1601!
Today, St. Patrick’s Day is an official holiday in Ireland. Some drinks and even food are dyed green, and everyone wears green!
Why is it all green?
The tradition of wearing green didn’t begin until the 19th century in America. The Irish immigrants decided to wear green in support of the Irish Republican cause…and it stuck.
Before that, the color associated with Saint Patrick was blue.
Some legends say that the color choice goes back to the tales of fairies and leprechauns. It was believed that if you wore green, the leprechauns would leave you alone. According to folklore, wearing green made you invisible. You wanted to be invisible because if you weren’t, the tiny leprechauns would sneak up and pinch you!
Everything goes green on Saint Patrick’s Day.
Celebrations in Chicago, Illinois include dying the Chicago River green. In Ireland, the whole country dons a shade of green. Buildings are lit up with green lights, rivers are dyed green, and the nickname for Ireland is, appropriately, the “Emerald Isle.”
Don’t forget the shamrocks!
The shamrock is the most recognized symbol of the Irish. It’s said that Saint Patrick used the three-leaf shamrock to symbolize the Holy Trinity in Christianity to the people of Ireland. And, occasionally, a fourth leaf will sprout. The “four-leaf clover” is said to bring good luck to whoever finds it!
The foods of Saint Patrick’s Day include anything Irish such as Irish soda bread, Irish potato soup, and Irish stew.
Corned beef and cabbage are the traditional St. Patrick’s day foods in America. The roots of that dish go back to the Irish immigrants in New York. Beef could be bought for a penny a pound from the trade ships docked in Manhattan.
The beef was kept on the ships in a very salty brine so it wouldn’t go bad while the ship was at sea. To get rid of some of the saltiness, the beef would be boiled three times! Cabbage was added to the last boil to make it a meal.
To round out this delicious dish, folks added a dense bread for mopping up all the yummy bits. It's called Irish Soda Bread, and here's the recipe for you!
Irish soda bread
- 4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 1 cup currants or raisins
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 425°F
- In a large mixing bowl, add 4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda. Mix well.
- Add 4 tablespoon butter and 1 cup raisins/currants into the flour mixture.
- Using your clean fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal
- Add in 1¾ cups buttermilk and 1 large beaten egg into the flour/butter mixture. Mix well with a wooden spatula.
- Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl to form a rough ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add in a little more flour. Do not over-knead! Note that the dough will be a little sticky like biscuit dough.
- Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased 10-12” cast iron skillet, or a 9-10” cake/pie pan.
- Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about an inch and a half deep in an "X" shape. The purpose of the scoring is to help heat get into the center of the dough while it cooks.
- Transfer to the oven and bake at 425°F until the bread is golden, about 35-45 minutes.
- Check for doneness by inserting a long, thin skewer into the center. If it comes out clean, it's done.
Speaking of hearty meals, you can explore other Irish dishes in the UK eat2explore box!