17 March 2008

St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all my friends out in the blogosphere! Today is that time of year when we celebrate Saint Patrick with a feast day that includes lots of green in just about everything. Green food, green clothing, green-themed events, and so forth. It's the national holiday of Ireland, and celebrated in several countries around the globe. Here's a couple interesting tidbits about the day that you may not have known:

1. The color for St. Patrick used to be blue, not green. However, throughout the years, the color green came to prominence as the color of the country, the color of the symbol of St. Patrick (the three-leafed shamrock plant), and as a sign of nationalism to Ireland.

2. The shamrock was used by St. Patrick to explain the Holy Trinity to pre-Christian Irish. The shamrock's three leaves symbolized the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

3. Some cities in the United States have created rather unique little ways to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Among these are: painting the center stripes of roads green just for the day, Chicago dying their river green (since 1961), the streets of Rolla, Missouri are painted solid green the night before St. Patrick's Day for their festivities, the Sons of Erin (think "Erin Go Brea") have held a classic car show, parade, and three-day festival in Henderson, NV, and in New York City, they boast, of course, the largest St. Pattie's Day parade in the world!

In my hometown of Fountain Hills, Arizona, home of what was the world's largest fountain until 1981, the town's officials dye the 560-foot plume of water coming out of the fountain green at noon on St. Patrick's Day. When it's windy, the water is carried by the wind a short ways over the lake and creates an awesome waterfall effect which is totally green! This is usually accompanied by a parade and other festivities. Some people have big picnics in the park there, and watch the dying of the fountain at noon. The photograph above is of the Fountain at night.

At least 14 of the 30 Major League Baseball teams now also celebrate the day by wearing green caps, jerseys, and other gear on St. Patrick's Day, started by the Cincinnati Reds in 1978. Now the Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, Mets, Braves, Phillies, Tigers, Pirates, Padres, Royals, Mariners, White Sox, and Cardinals all also wear the luck 'o the Irish on this day. (However, there's not a lot of stock in that whole luck thing today, because 7 of those teams lost or are losing games right now, and 7 teams are winning or have won their games today right now.)

So today, go have yourself a big plate of corned beef and cabbage, with some Guinnes, Harp, Murphy's, Beamish, or Smithwicks, or just some good old Irish whiskey (the alcohol being a reference to the Roman festival of Bacchanalia, the God of wine, whose festival was also - you guessed it - March 17)! Make sure you wear some green, lest you get yourself pinched (another uniquely American ritual, with no roots in Irish culture at all), and make sure you remember your history - George Washington's holiday for the Continental soldiers on 17 March 1780 known as the St. Patrick's Day Encampment of 1780 or the first public celebration of the day in Boston by Irish settlers in 1737.

But most of all, enjoy the day, and if you see any leprechauns - who were traditionally described as wearing red from head to toe, not green, and who make the shoes of faeries - like those which notoriously change the city of New London, Wisconsin to New Dublin for a week, make sure you get his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but watch out for his tricks, as they are notorious for being tricksters!

Erin go brea!


  1. We discussed this in the office today:

    Evacuation Day in Boston: occurred in March 17, 1776, still celebrated annually as a legal holiday in Suffolk County, Massachusetts. The celebration is on March 17, coinciding with St. Patrick's Day. Celebrations are notoriously spirited.

    Happy St. Patrick's day!

  2. I've never heard of Evacuation Day... from what are people evacuating?

  3. Evacuation Day is an official holiday commemorating the evacuation of the city (which was a town at the time) of Boston by British forces during the American Revolutionary War.