The Italian Saint With an Irish Fate

The Italian Saint With an Irish Fate

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, NYC

Ah, St. Patrick’s Day: the best illegal holiday in the country!  By illegal, I mean that it is not nationally recognized as a legal holiday in the U.S.  You would think after more than 300 years of celebrating, we could at least get the day off work or school.  No matter, it hasn’t and never will stop us from donning green and observing our Irish heritage if it’s part of our lineage, or just adopting an Irish background for the day.  I think you could argue St. Patrick’s Day is one of the biggest celebrations in American culture, spanning over several days and including countless festivals and parades.  Even with that being said, I’m not sure the majority of Americans know how the green day came to be, and who this so-called St. Patrick really is.

 

St. Patrick is undoubtedly one of the most widely recognized saints in the world, always connected to Ireland.  Before he became a saint, he was Italian born in the country of Scotland.  Unfortunately, he didn’t travel to Ireland by choice with the dreams of entering sainthood.  He was actually kidnapped as a teenager and brought to Ireland as a slave until he escaped back to his Scottish home in his early 20s.  After becoming a cleric and having a vision to serve the Irish people, he returned to Ireland and the rest is history.

 

 

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Irish band at the Boulder, CO festival

St. Patrick’s Day, also known as the Feast of St. Patrick in Ireland, was originally celebrated as a deeply religious day of remembrance of St. Patrick and his work in establishing Christianity in Ireland.  March 17 is believed to be the day of his death.  Throughout centuries of observance, the holiday has become much more cultural than religious, eventually resulting in an annual one-day alcohol ban in the early 1900s which stayed in effect for 70 years.  Can you imagine not being able to indulge in a Guinness or green beer for our dear St. Pat?  I know I can’t.  In the late 1990s, the very first St. Patrick’s Day festival was inaugurated all in the name of tourism, and the holiday most closely resembled its U.S. counterpart and how we’ve always known it to be.
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“Baby Guiness” shooters

 

The American St. Patrick’s Day has always been a cultural holiday since Irish immigrants brought the tradition overseas solely to remember their home country.  March 17 and the weekend closest is one of my favorite times of year!  It definitely helps that I come from an Irish family, and the first time I experienced Guinness was in the homeland, but the main reason I love this holiday is that Americans, no matter their ancestry, adopt another culture, the Irish culture, for the day.  It might be a little over the top (I’m looking at you, Chicago, dyeing your river green), but that’s the best part!
 
“Irish hot dog”
This year, I celebrated all weekend long starting with a quick visit with my O’Connor cousin in Denver.  We dined on whiskey cocktails and what I interpreted as Rueben eggrolls.  So good!  Sunday was the big day, however, back in Boulder, CO.  The only Irish pub downtown, Connor O’Neil’s, had a mini festival, utilizing the outdoor space behind the pub.  Guinness and green beer was flowing, an Irish band was jamming, a sea of green was jigging, and corned beef was warming.  I had my face airbrushed with sparkly shamrocks to match my green attire and with Guinness in hand I was happier than a leprechaun discovering the pot o’ gold (I couldn’t resist the Irish pun).  Festival food trucks introduced me to hotdogs topped with corned beef, kraut, and jalapenos, while I introduced friends to the “Baby Guinness” shooter: Kahlua on the bottom, Bailey’s on top.  They’re adorably delicious.  It was a day-long party lasting until long after dark, but it never waned and I was already looking forward to next year (I found out they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in South Korea!).
Healthy Shepherd’s Pie
I ended the celebrations with a healthy twist on an Irish classic: Shepherd’s Pie.  Instead of ground beef or lamb I used turkey, and I packed it full of spinach, green beans, peas and carrots, and the top was a mixture of pureed cauliflower and mashed potatoes.  It was a perfect way to recover from and conclude the green weekend.  Thank you, dear St. Patrick, for bringing Christianity to Ireland, and in turn, Guinness to America!

 

…and my most recent (2013), but certainly not the last.
My first Guinness (2004)…

One Comment on “The Italian Saint With an Irish Fate

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