St Patrick is probably one of the most celebrated saints in the world, bringing christianity to Ireland and legend has it, driving out the snakes, the symbol of paganism. We’ll certainly be sinking a few pints of Guinness and shaking our shamrocks to celebrate so this month so, pint in hand, manblog takes a closer look at St Patrick’s Day.
In 1903 St Patrick’s Day became an official public holiday in Ireland, although soon after the law required pubs to be closed on the day as apparently the ‘drinking got out of hand’ (!). This was reversed obviously, but not until the 1970s.
The biggest celebrations outside Dublin are in Downpatrick, County Down, where Saint Patrick is rumoured to be buried and the shortest St Patrick’s Day parade in the world takes place in Dripsey, Cork. The parade lasts just 100 yards and travels between the village’s two pubs!
Birmingham holds the largest Saint Patrick’s Day parade in England with a massive city centre parade over a two mile route through the city centre. The organisers describe it as the third biggest parade in the world after Dublin and New York.
An estimated 12% of the US population has Irish ancestry so America tends to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in a big bad way – last year the White House fountain was even dyed green to celebrate (this also happened in Trafalgar Square in 2008)
As the rose is to England, the thistle to Scotland, and the leek to Wales, so the shamrock is worn to celebrate St Patrick’s day after he reportedly used it to explain the holy trinity to the pagan irish.
Guinness, the best selling alcoholic drink in Ireland, is made from water, barley, hops, and brewer’s yeast. A portion of the barley is roasted to give Guinness its dark colour and characteristic taste, and despite its reputation as a “meal in a glass”, Guinness only contains 198 kcal a pint, fewer than skimmed milk or orange juice and most other beers. Apparently 5.5 million pints are drunk around the world every day but this rises to 13 million on St Patrick’s Day.
Everybody’s at it, so what better excuse for a guinness we say!