A Short History of St. Patrick’s Day

Pints of green beer for St. Patrick's Day

It’s that time of year again. Time to don your favorite green apparel and hit your local pub, or your home, for some green beer or a pint of Guinness. But why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? And why is green associated with this holiday?

St. Paddy’s Day History

The history of St. Paddy’s day as an official holiday dates back to the 1900s although it was celebrated as a national feast day in Ireland as early as the 10th century. St. Patrick, the most famous patron saint of Ireland, is regarded as the principal missionary who brought Christianity to Ireland. He was known to use the leaves of a shamrock to teach the doctrine of the holy trinity.

Originally, the color associated with St. Patrick was blue, but to honor him, people would wear shamrocks. Then, during a rebellion in 1798, Irish soldiers wore all green uniforms with the hope of drawing attention and support. This was known as ‘wearing of the green’. Eventually green overtook blue, and shamrocks and their green color became the norm for those celebrating this holiday.

St. Patrick’s Day has since spread to all corners of the world. It is widely popular in Canada, the USA, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, and is even celebrated in Japan and South Korea.

Irish Traditions

While it is well known as a day for enjoying a pint of green beer, many other traditions are practiced, including church-going, parades, family meals, and the attendance of Ceilidh, traditional Gaelic festivals featuring Gaelic folk music and dancing.

The act of gift-giving on St. Patrick’s Day has gained prominence in recent years, largely consisting of ‘themed’ presents. Items like green candy, chocolate shamrocks, Irish beer and spirits, and other Irish-themed gifts are all fun to give and receive. You might even discover the perfect gourmet gift idea on our St. Patrick’s Day gifts page on our website.

Traditional St. Patrick’s Day Food

Although traditionally served on St. Patrick’s Day, Irish dinners have become a popular dinner choice for any day of the year. Hearty Irish dinners include the ever-popular corned beef and cabbage, a slow-cooked meal that causes the beef to fall-apart on your plate.

Shepherd’s Pie, mashed potatoes layered over a rich flavored meat base. Some families choose to enhance the meaty flavor by adding a rich beer gravy to the ground lamb or beef. Whichever way you make it, you can’t go wrong with almost any meat and potato combination.

Also, a wonderful accompaniment to both these meals is Irish Soda bread. A simple recipe that doesn’t require the dough to be kneaded or left to rise.  Just throw all of the ingredients in a bowl and let your electric mixer do the hard work. The end result is a bread with the subtle sweetness of orange zest and currants.

Serving a non-traditional meal for St. Patrick’s Day? Add a touch of tradition with a mashed potato and cabbage side dish called Colcannon. Also, this makes a great side dish to the corned beef and cabbage!

Irish Blessing

No matter what you are planning to do for this holiday we wish everyone a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day and will close this post with a traditional Irish blessing. And don’t forget you can share and recite this with your family and friends this year and for many years to come.

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!


Featured Photo by anaumenko from Fotalia