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St. Patrick’s Day

Every year, on March 17th, folks gather in green to drink pints of green beer in celebration of St. Patrick. We wondered: Why green beer? And who is St. Patrick? What are some typical St. Patrick’s Day food traditions?

St. Patrick’s Day is thought to be more popular in North America than in the country it honors, Ireland. We set out to find out how its popular St. Patrick’s Day traditions came to be.

Who is St. Patrick?

Fun fact: Patrick (or St. Patrick, Saint Patrick) wasn’t actually Irish. He was born in AD 387 in Britain. He developed an affinity for the Irish after he was taken to Ireland by Irish pagans in his early teens and kept there for six years. When he eventually escaped and returned to his family, he vowed that one day, he would return to Ireland.

He was ordained a priest, and then a bishop. Pope Celestine I then commissioned him to be an apostle to Ireland. Thousands of people came into the Catholic Church under his direction.

Legend has it that St. Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain the holy trinity – father, son and the Holy Ghost – to King Laoghaire – the ancient High King of Ireland.

The day March 17th commemorates the death of the most recognizable patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick, and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.

St. Patrick’s Day Feasts
Typical St. Patrick’s Day Irish fare includes such staples as corned beef and cabbage. Other popular Irish dishes include shepherd’s pie, stew, colcannon potatoes, soda bread and bread and butter pudding. Some more modern additions, mostly found in Irish themed pubs around North America, which often include Irish inspired dishes named after beers and the country’s history – poutine (using Guinness cheddar), Guinness steak and mushroom pie, Blarney Fries or Kilkenny Ale Fish & Chips.

Green Beer
It’s believed that the origin of green beer began in New York City or Boston because of their large population of people of Irish descent. Early references have been made to New York society drinking green beer at a St. Patrick’s Day dinner.

Green Beer Day is a tradition that started at Miami University of Oxford, Ohio in 1952 and is now celebrated annually on the Thursday before Spring Break.

Why green on St. Patrick’s Day?
Here are some theories as to why green is the color associated with St. Patrick’s Day:

– The colour green and its connection to Ireland are widely believed to refer to the country’s beautiful lush green landscape.
– The color green became associated with the big day after it was linked to the Irish independence movement in the late 18th century.
– Green is one of the colors in Ireland’s tri-color flag, and it has been used in the flags of several Irish revolutionary groups throughout history
– Green is the color of a shamrock

How to Make Green Beer

Making green beer couldn’t be easier. Skip the bar crowds this year and make your own St. Patty’s day party!

– Pale beer (select a brand that is clear and lightly colored, no reds, hazy or dark) – a tall can of beer works well
– Green food colouring
– Gloves (to avoid getting food colouring on your hands)
– Glassware (pint glass or beer mug)

Pour about two drops of green food colouring into a 24 oz can of beer. You can also experiment by putting the drops into the beer in a glass.

Either way, make sure to enjoy and drink responsibly!