Food News

St. Patrick's Day Traditions: A Historical Perspective

Many of us wear green garments and consume green concoctions on St. Patrick's Day. But who was the man who would become widely celebrated? He was born in 385 AD somewhere along the west coast of Britain. At age 16, he was enslaved by a sheep farmer. He escaped when he was 22 and spent the next 12 years in a monastery. In his 30s, he returned to Ireland as a Christian missionary, and when he died March 17 in 461, he became the patron saint of Ireland.

Today, St. Paddy's Day has become a celebration of Irish tradition. But history has been cast aside, and the main focus is food and alcohol debauchery. Kinda ironic for a holiday that commemorates a saint, don't ya think? So how would today's green traditions stand up to Saint Patrick's brotherhood standards?


On any other occasion, we would shy away from consuming gallons of anything that was neon green. Yet on St. Patrick's Day, this is not only perfectly acceptable but also expected, and bars across the country dye their precious libations the color of a Jolly Rancher. Grown men throw their fear of "girly" drink colors out the window and guzzle it down to put hair on their chest. Saint Patrick's face would have turned green at the sight of adulterated mead, so stick with the tried and true for a better way to honor him.


The latest commercial trend is "green foods" to celebrate the luck of the Irish. The only lucky people here are the ones laughing their way to the bank as we spend our hard-earned green on pasta, cookies, cakes -- all colored green. Saint Patrick is turning over in his grave because this poor old monk was allowed one meat meal a week. We're pretty sure this was dedicated to some serious Irish corned beef.

Be merry...

Let's just clarify: Monks don't wear green top hats. Saint Patrick spent his days in a long wool garment that would have been green only if he rolled around in the grass. He did, however, use the three-leaf clover to explain the Holy Trinity to pre-Christian Irish people, so if you must cover your head, do so in proper style.

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Christina Staalstrom