What's all the fuss about St. Patrick anyway?
“Well he was not a leprechaun who drank green beer or had a blarney stone or a pot of gold,” explains historian William Federer, who wrote St. Patrick: The Real History of His Life, From Tragedy to Triumph. “He was actually a missionary and he converted 120,000 druids from paganism to Christianity.”
Who was St. Patrick really?
St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity's most widely known figures. But for all his celebrity, his life remains somewhat of a mystery. Many of the stories traditionally associated with St. Patrick, including the famous account of his banishing all the snakes from Ireland, are false, the products of hundreds of years of exaggerated storytelling.
Patrick preached about Jesus Christ, spread Christianity across the British Isles, and spoke out against slavery. Some historians even call him the world’s first abolitionist!
I love a parade...
The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place not in Ireland, but in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers to reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as fellow Irishmen serving in the English army
And then there's the Chicago River...
Chicago is also famous for dyeing the Chicago River green. The tradition started in 1962, when city pollution-control workers used dyes to trace illegal sewage discharges and realized that the green dye might provide a unique way to celebrate the holiday. That year, they released 100 pounds of green vegetable dye into the river—enough to keep it green for a week!
Today, in order to minimize environmental damage, only forty pounds of dye are used, making the river green for only several hours. Although Chicago historians claim their city 's idea for a river of green was original, some Savannah natives believe the idea originated in their town.
What about corned beef and cabbage?
About 41.5 billion pounds and 2.6 billion pounds of U.S. beef and cabbage, respectively, were sold in 2007. Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional St. Patrick's Day dish. The corned beef celebrants eat on St. Patrick's Day may very well have originated in Texas, which produced 6.8 billion pounds worth of beef, while the cabbage most likely came from California, which produced 581 million pounds worth, or New York (580 million pounds).
And, a little Irish Soda Bread for ye?
Irish Soda Bread gets its name and distinctive character from the use of baking soda instead of yeast as the leavening agent.
How 'bout those Shamrocks!
There are 4 places in the United States named Shamrock, the floral emblem of Ireland. Mount Gay-Shamrock, W.Va., and Shamrock, TX, were the most populous, with 2,623 and 1,841 residents, respectively. Shamrock Lakes, Ind., had 162 residents and Shamrock, OK, 125.
Emerald Isle, North Carolina?
Yep! Who wudda thunk right here in the good ol' USA is Emerald Isle, NC, with 3,686 residents!
A total of 4.8 million immigrants from Ireland have been admitted to the U.S. for lawful permanent residence since fiscal year 1820, the earliest year for which official immigration records exist. By fiscal year 1870, about half of these immigrants were admitted for lawful permanent residence. Only Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Mexico have had more immigrants admitted for permanent residence to the United States than Ireland.
Wearing of the Green Goes Global
Today, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated by people of all backgrounds in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Although North America is home to the largest productions, St. Patrick's Day has been celebrated in other locations far from Ireland, including Japan, Singapore, and Russia.
In modern-day Ireland, St. Patrick's Day has traditionally been a religious occasion. In fact, up until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on March 17. Beginning in 1995, however, the Irish government began a national campaign to use St. Patrick's Day as an opportunity to drive tourism and showcase Ireland to the rest of the world. Last year, close to one million people took part in Ireland 's St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin, a multi-day celebration featuring parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions, and fireworks shows.
Everybody's Irish on St. Patrick's Day!
Patrick's mission in Ireland is said to have lasted for thirty years. It is believe he died in the 5th century on March 17, which is the day St. Patrick's Day is commemorated each year.
The first year St. Patrick's Day was celebrated in America in 1737 in Boston, Massachusetts. The first official St. Patrick's Day parade was held in New York City in 1766. As the saying goes, on this day "everybody is Irish!" Over 100 U.S. cities now hold Saint Patrick's Day parades.
Have a great St. Patrick's Day and give the kids just a little history of the "green day" while you're stirring up something special and green in the kitchen today!
Getting Kids into the Kitchen,
Jan McCracken, Culinary Coach for Kids