Top o’ the morning’ to ye, me good lads and lassies. Sure as me name’s Frankie O’Weaver Jr., ’tis Friday,
March 17, ’n’ that means Saint Paddy's Day. ’Tis the wearin’ o’ the green, or, to put it even better, we’re just four days away from spring.
Today’s when everyone, regardless of their ancestry, claims to be at least part Irish - except for my wife who’s first generation Scottish. (Okay, okay! I pled ignorance on her ancestry. But then she didn’t know I was Irish).
This being the day for wearin’ o’ the green, let’s celebrate with a wee bit of Irish trivia. Test your knowledge by answering questions about this festive holiday. If successful, ye may have more Irish in you than what ye know.
What is the official color of St. Patrick?
If you thought it was green, gold or even red, think again. The official color of St. Patrick is blue. There’s even a color called "Saint Patrick's blue." If you find an old Irish flag, the chances are good it'll still be decked out in blue. But in 1798, the clover became the symbol of the Irish Rebellion, and the tradition of wearing green came with it. The only thing worse than a team by Lake Erie hightailing it to the Chesapeake Bay, is wearin’ clothes other than green on March 17.
What remained closed in Ireland on St. Patrick's Day until 1961?
Think St. Patrick's Day, and you think green. You may also think imbibing. Many ring in the holiday with a brew or two and roughly 13 million pints of Guinness go down the hatch every year. But St. Patrick's Day is a religious holiday that falls in the middle of Lent and all that drinking and revelry wasn't sitting very well with many of the Irish. That’s when Ireland passed a law closing all pubs on March 17th. If you visited Ireland before 1961 when it was repealed, it was the hardest day of the year to buy a brew.
How is Saint Patrick associated with snakes?
Saint Patrick is said to be famous for driving all the snakes out of Ireland - or so we’re told. It’s worth noting, however, that if this historical data is accurate, by the time Ireland’s patron saint died, there were no snakes in Ireland. But to begin with, Ireland never had snakes. More than likely the snakes were a metaphor. St. Patrick's real claim to fame is spreading Christianity throughout Ireland, and the snakes are now thought to represent non-believers.
What does the shamrock symbolize?
As St. Patrick spread the message of Christianity, the shamrock, or three-leafed clover, proved to be the perfect symbol. Its three leaves bound together represented the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. So he adopted a three-leaf clover as a teaching tool. Little did he realize it would ultimately cost him his own special color.
What is Ireland’s official symbol?
When you think of Ireland, you usually think of green, the blarney stone or the shamrock. But the official symbol for Ireland is a heavenly, golden harp. As legend has it, confusion occurred when St. Patrick went to Connaught to meet two of King Laoghaire’s daughters, Ethne and Fedelm. After failing to convert the king, he prayed he’d do better with the two princesses. That’s when he used a shamrock to show how a single plant with three leaves is likened to the one Triune God with three separate and distinct Persons, and the shamrock became famous.
And these last three notes.
First, ‘Erin Go Bragh’ are not words an Englishman uses to tell an Irishman where to go. It’s an English corruption of the Irish phrase Éirinn go Brách. In the Irish language it means ‘Ireland Forever!’ Secondly, just as chop suey is not a Chinese dish, the origin of corned beef and cabbage is not Irish. Both are American cuisine!
And finally, green beer is not an Irish Tradition. First served on St. Paddy’s Day in 1914 by a doctor in a Bronx social club, it’s an American invention. The good doctor took a few drops of blue food dye and dropped it in a keg of yellow beer, thus producing a green hue.
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