Friday, March 16, 2012

Everything you ever wanted to know about St. Patricks Day but were afraid to ask an Irishman for fear of getting punched

Every writer needs a muse. Someone or something that inspires.

Na Fianna in Kilkenny
So I find myself sitting here at 0-dark-thirty in the morning surrounded by the doo-dads and what-nots from my recent trips to Ireland, listening to the sweet Irish lads of Na Fianna and their ever-so-Irish tunes, seeking inspiration to come up with something clever and fun to share with you that has not already been said to death about the celebrated day of St. Patrick – and I’ve got to be about it quickly while you can still read it sober so here goes.

First things First –regardless of your nationality or heritage – a very Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you – or as it’s said in Irish Gaelic - Lá Fhéile Pádraig. The one day of the year when you can get away with public displays of drunkenness and wearing of anything green and baudy, including shirts that suggest you swap spit with a total stranger all because you’re Irish.  

Which, by the way, one thing I can promise you – if someone is wearing a “Kiss me I’m Irish” button,shirt, hat…etc…they ARE NOT Irish. All Irish folk know this to be true. REAL Irish people are most likely wearing a shirt that says "Try and kiss me and I'll punch ya."

Let’s get the mundane (but necessary) facts about St. Patrick’s Day out of the way first, then we’ll get to the fun, totally useless blarney
  • St. Patrick really did exist. He was not Irish, however, but British (gasp!). He was born in AD 387
  • When he was 16 years old, our boy Patrick was kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a slave. He musta liked it because when he was freed years later, he returned to Ireland to spread Christianity. Awwww…good on ya lad.(That's Scottish for "way to go")
  • St. Patrick’s Day, as a result of Patrick’s efforts on behalf of Christianity, is now celebrated as a religious holiday in Ireland.
  • As a result of his saving the Irish from themselves, Patrick became Saint Patrick, a celebrated patron Saint of Ireland.
  • More often than not, however, St. Patrick’s Day celebrated as a cultural holiday around the rest of the world. (Translation= a reason to drink to oblivion)
  • In the United States, over 450 churches are named after our celebrated patron Saint.
  • In 1903 Saint Patrick’s Day became the official public holiday in Ireland.
  • The shortest Saint Patrick’s day parade in the world is held in Dripsey, Cork. The parade is just 100 yards and travels between the village’s two pubs.Go figure.
  • The Shamrock is said to have been what St. Patrick used to illustrate the Holy Trinity to the Irish. Cheap prop – smart fella our Patrick.
Now the fun stuff…..Interesting and little unknown facts you can impress your friends with if you can remember them in your inebriated state:
The Chicago River on St. Patrick's Day
  • In Chicago they turn the Chicago river totally green with 40 lbs of green dye. It’s true, I’ve seen it with me own eyes. And it’s emerald. Seriously.
  • Over 100,000 people line the riverbank to watch this happen. Then they all jump in. (I totally made that last part up. But it would be fun, aye?)
  • In the US of A, 83% of people wear green on St. Patrick’s Day
  • Over 31% attend a party
  • 25% decorate their home and/or office
  • Between 1820-1930 over 4.5 million people emigrated from Ireland to the United States.
  • Today 37 million US residents claim Irish ancestry.  (This is more than 7 times the current population of Ireland)
  • So how many Irishman does it take to screw in a light bulb? 21. One to hold the light bulb and 20 to drink till the room spins. (Just seeing if you were paying attention)
  • Before the invention of the thermometer, beer brewers in Ireland used to check the temperature by dipping their thumb, to find whether appropriate for adding yeast. Too hot, the yeast would die. This is where we get the phrase, “The rule of thumb.” This has nothing whatsoever to do with St. Patrick’s Day, but I thought it was fascinating.
  • Contrary to popular belief, kissing the Blarney Stone does not gift you with the gift of gab (blarney). You've either got it or you ain't. Kissing the blarney stone only gets you made fun of by Irish locals and germs left by the 2 million people who kissed it before you. Ewww.
As the one national holiday that is celebrated in more countries around the world than any other, St. Patrick’s Day is the day when everyone wants to be Irish or claims to have the green blood of Eire (Ireland) running through their veins. Well go ahead, we won’t hold it against ya. Just don’t embarrass us whilst claiming to be us.
One of the largest St. Patrick's Day parades is held in Chicago

Slainte and Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!