Absolute Notions: Five Facts about St. Patricks Day you won’t believe.
Our national holiday is upon us, and we couldn’t be more excited. A true festival of celebration, nothing makes the Irish let loose more than St. Patrick’s Day. We get a long weekend to celebrate in the homeland, but the Irish diaspora tends to go even more all-out on the day with large-scale festivities happening all over the world.
As a somewhat mysterious figure in Irish history, the celebration of our patron saint along with the legends told about his life have changed over time. For the day that’s in it, we thought we’d shock the Paddy Box family with five myth-busting facts about our saintly namesake that will make you say “I don’t believe eh…”
He wasn’t even Irish.
We don’t like this one. Many of us remember the gut-wrenching day we found out that Naomh Padraig was not Irish. It felt like a betrayal to be honest when it was revealed in history class that the fella honored in every corner of our land, from elaborate stain-glass windows to our most famous mountain, was not a true ‘Paddy’. However, his un-Irishness is just the tip of the iceberg. The sad, sad truth is… St Patrick is a Brit. A Roman Brit to be precise. The son of a wealthy Roman … to shatter the illusion even further. We’ll give those who didn’t know he was English a moment to contain themselves before the next big reveal…
He did not drive the snakes out of Ireland… because there were none
At least there were none in living memory. Now, this fact only matters to those who took the word ‘snakes’ literally when being taught the legend at school. However, if like many bitter Irish people, you envisioned these more as ‘shnakes’ (sneaky people with notions about themselves rather than slithering reptiles) then it may be true. With that point of view in mind, there were probably plenty of shnakes to get rid of in Ireland at the time, just as there are now. If St. Patrick is free to come back and remove them once again, that would be great.
The first St Patrick’s Day Parade was held in America.
There are Irish people in every corner of the world, so it’s fair to say that our culture is celebrated globally. You’d think something as Irish as the parade would have originated in Ireland, but though we’ve celebrated St. Patrick since the 1600s, the first parade was held by a Spanish colony in Florida. We do often find similarities between ourselves and the Spanish – mostly that they are also great craic – so it’s unsurprising that they introduce the party side to this religious celebration.
St. Patrick’s Day was originally… a Dry holiday.
We are sorry to bring this up, but the truth is Paddy’s Day used to be a Guinness-less celebration. Let that sink in. Up until the 1970s, Irish law prohibited pubs from opening on March 17th as a mark of respect for the death of our patron saint. Nowadays, it’s hard to envisage what Paddy’s Day would even look like without pints. Nope – it’s too painful. We are sorry for the mental image.
The 17th of March is NOT an excuse to get a day off from Lent
Anyone growing up with Irish Catholic connections will know that Lent is the time of year that is most DREADED by Irish children. To make a very long story short, it’s an excruciating period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday when Catholics are encouraged to give up something they enjoy for 40 days. This is done in solidarity with Jesus who wandered the desert without food and water for this amount of time. Now I don’t know about you, but we never had a choice about what we ‘gave up for Lent’. It was ALWAYS sweets. Not a single square of Dairy Milk or a Dib Dab was allowed to be consumed for the 6 weeks or so of Lent and this was simply soul-destroying. However, a rumor spread about a loophole in the tradition. A moment of respite during those long painful weeks: Paddy’s Day. We were allowed to ‘break Lent’ mid-way through on St Patrick’s Day – or so we thought. According to Catholic teaching, this is untrue. As St. Patrick lived WAY later than Christ our Lord, Jesus did not take the day off from fasting to celebrate his life. Here at the Paddy Box, however, we believe St. Patrick would want have wanted us to have a few shweets to honor him, he is our beloved namesake after all!