Luck of the Irish

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Many of the customs and beliefs associated with St. Patrick's Day originated in countries other than Ireland, especially the United States. Many of the traditions connected with St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the U.S. are associated with either Irish-American folklore or with consumer marketing. This extends to some of the most popular St. Patrick's Day recipes, such as corned beef and cabbage, which originated in the U.S. and have no association with the traditional Irish recipes served on that day.
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St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is a holy day as well as a national holiday for Ireland. It is a celebration in honor of a Christian missionary who was born Maewyn Succat around 385 AD to a Roman nobleman. After his village was attacked, Maewyn was captured and sold into slavery, he was just 16. After six years of captivity, he escaped to France (known in AD times as Gaul). During the 12 years following, he studied under St. Germain, the bishop of Auxerre. When his studies were completed, he returned to Ireland and took the name of St. Patrick, after his baptismal name Patricius. St. Patrick believed it was his calling to convert the pagans (a person who worships many gods or has no religious beliefs) to Christianity. He was very successful in his 30 year endeavor and is credited for converting the Irish population to Catholicism. St. Patrick died on March 17, 461 AD.

Fact or Myth?

  • Although snakes have never been native to Ireland, folklore surrounds the belief that St. Patrick gave a hilltop sermon that drove all snakes out of Ireland. Some Irishmen see this as a metaphor for the conversion of the pagans.

  • The national flower of Ireland is the Shamrock. The Shamrock is 3 leafed, a 4 leafed clover is rare and therefore is considered “lucky.” As the Irish tale goes, St. Patrick used this stem to explain the concept of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

  • Kissing a Blarney Stone signifies luck. A Blarney Stone is an actual stone set in the wall of Blarney Castle Tower in Blarney, Ireland.

  • On March 17, 1762, in New York City, Irish American soldiers serving in the English military organized the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

  • Corned Beef and Cabbage is a food adopted by the Americans. A customary meal in Ireland would likely be ham and/or bacon and cabbage.

  • In years past, St. Patrick’s Day was considered holy. Therefore, the Irish Pubs were not open to serve beer. Drinking green beer was an American marketing idea.

  • Wearing green is also a custom created by Americans. The color green was considered unlucky in Ireland.

Lucky Charm

Help your children celebrate the luck of the Irish by creating an original gift of luck for their friends and family. Decorate river stones with glitter, craft gems and sequins. Let dry. To make a carrying pouch, cut a circle out of felt or fabric scraps 4 inches larger in diameter than the stone. After stone is dry, place the rock in the center of the fabric circle. Pull sides around rock and tie with a piece of yarn long enough to allow for a carrying cord.


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