Luck of the Irish
Bouncing around Europe to make sure the Sip Advisor ended up in Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day was a must. Of course, the day celebrates the death of and feast for Saint Patrick. But what do we really know about this patron saint of boozing and his namesake holiday? Luckily for you, my little sippers, I’m here to educate!:
Saint Patrick has become a symbol of national identity for the Irish, despite being born in England. He is credited with using the shamrock as a teaching tool and figure for the holy trinity (the father, the son, and the holy spirit… had he plucked a four-leaf varietal, would he have had to make up a fourth element for the concept?). Despite common belief, Ireland’s national symbol is actually the harp, not the shamrock. Mmmm, it gets me thinking of Harp Lager, which is my favourite Irish brewing import.
Patrick worked his way across Ireland setting up monasteries, churches, and schools to help with his converting and was arrested many times by the Celtic Druids (a wicked name for a rock band), managing to escape their capture every time. His inclusion of native Irish rituals helped in bringing people over to Christianity. Patrick is credited with creating the Celtic Cross, by adding an image of the sun (an important Irish symbol) to the Christian cross.
As with most saints, Patrick has been recognized for performing a number of miracles during his life. Those phenomenal feats include driving snakes out of the country, although most scientists believe there were never any serpents in Ireland to begin with. The term serpents could have had more to do with converting paganism followers to Christianity and exiling those who did not wish to jump ship. Legends also state that Patrick was able to raise the dead.
While wearing green is a St. Patrick’s Day tradition, Saint Patrick’s garments were actually blue. I have so much more blue in my wardrobe (it accentuates my eyes!), so I kind of wish we would celebrate March 17 with some historical accuracy. Other traditions for the day include kissing the blarney stone, which for Mrs. Sip and I means going to the local pub of that name and getting drunk enough that your face meets the floor.
The leap year tradition of women proposing to men has also been attributed to Patrick. The account states that when Saint Bridget complained of women waiting too long for men to propose (hey, we’re just enjoying what’s left of our freedom!) Patrick made this little alteration to courtship guidelines. Bridget tried to propose to Patrick, but the wise missionary turned her down.
St. Patrick’s Day is known as one of the booziest days of the year and it was no different in Patrick’s time. He is said to have endorsed drinking on his feast day, stating that everyone should have “a drop of the hard stuff.” Along these lines, it is customary to drop the shamrock you’ve worn on St. Patrick’s Day in your last drink of the evening, thereby ‘drowning the shamrock’.
Everyone seems to get in on the St. Patrick’s Day act from the Chicago River in the United States being died green (although that might just be all the people expelling their green beverages) to the Canadian province of Newfoundland celebrating a provincial holiday… I really wish that this would spread across the entire country, rather than the French language. The day is also celebrated in Argentina, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland, and other locales around the globe.
And earth’s atmosphere apparently can’t contain the festiveness. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have been known to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day, including American Catherine Coleman playing instruments belonging to Irish musicians The Chieftains and Canadian Chris Hadfield taking photos of Ireland while in orbit and donning green for a rendition of Danny Boy.
File this under the ‘say it ain’t so’ category: From 1903 to 1970, St. Patrick’s Day was a religious observation, which equated to all pubs being shut down each year on March 17. When that law was overturned and the day was recognized as a national holiday, the booze was back. Thank god (or Saint Patrick) we remedied that!
Ireland: Blarney Stone
- 2 oz Irish Whiskey
- Top with Ginger Ale
- Splash of Lime Juice
- Garnish with a Lime Wedge
So, raise your glass (whatever it is, it better be green) and join me in reciting this great toast: “May your glass be ever full. May the roof over your head be always strong. And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead!”
Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This drink is great. It combines three of my favourite ingredients: Whiskey, Ginger Ale, and Lime Juice. The taste is light and refreshing and thanks to the two ounces of booze, you can get pretty trashed just like Saint Patrick would have wanted!