In light of recent announcements concerning COVID-19 and self-distancing and self-isolating, the following article has been ammended to provide an alternative way of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with friends.
I know I don’t speak for everyone but there is nothing I like more than to sit down to a pint of Guinness. Well – ok, that’s not entirely true, red wine is my beverage of choice 99% of the time but Guinness? Well, whether you’re visiting a pub or hanging out with friends on a Saturday afternoon, a tall, dark chocolaty brown glass of this beer, with a perfectly poured foamy top, is almost a meal in itself. Why am I waxing on so poetically about Guinness? Partly because it has “notes of coffee and chocolate” two of my other favourite food groups, but also because it’s St. Patrick’s Day and if you needed an excuse, St. Paddy’s Day is a great day to celebrate with friends. Friends who are, 50+ and mature and who know the difference between a good beer and green beer!
The Emerald Isle
In the early days of Amintro we spent at least one blog a month talking about the countries of origin of our many members. I don’t think we ever got around to Ireland and that’s a shame. It’s the beautiful “Emerald Isle” after all, rich in culture and history and a beautiful place to visit. It’s certainly also the best place to find a perfectly poured Guinness. While we might not have time to write a whole travel blog today, St. Patrick’s Day seemed like a good excuse to at least talk a little bit about some Irish history. As you’re celebrating St. Paddy’s Day while self-distancing this year, feel free to share your newfound knowledge with your friends!
Where is the largest St. Paddy’s Day Parade?
Until fairly recently, the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day was often more of a party in other countries around the world rather than in Ireland itself. This is in part thought to be a result of significant emigration from the emerald isle to countries around the world and their desire to carry on (perhaps even expand upon) some of the traditions of home. As a result, places like Chicago, New York and Savannah Georgia, yes Savannah, have the three largest St. Patrick’s Day parades. How a day meant to celebrate a Saint turned into a festive green beer occasion is still a matter of debate however!
Who was St. Patrick anyway?
Here’s a bit of the history:
St. Patrick was a 5th-century Christian missionary who, it is said, was captured from England as a slave, brought to Ireland and forced to work as a shepherd where, it is alleged, he “found God.” Later, escaping, he returned to England and became a priest. Eventually, Patrick made his way back to Ireland intent upon converting the Irish to Christianity. It’s alleged he used things like the shamrock to help explain the Holy Trinity and that the story of “driving the snakes out of Ireland” is actually an allegory for his efforts to convert the Druids. Tradition tells us that he died on March 17th and with the growth of many legends around him, St. Patrick went on to become Irelands’ foremost saint and the 17th of March is now celebrated in his honour. As for why beer is dyed green, or “little green men” (real or not, leprechauns are not actually green) have become so synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day, or indeed with Ireland in general, no one really knows. One thing we can confirm is that the shamrock, considered lucky, is sometimes placed in the bottom of your drink of choice (be it Guinness or otherwise) on this day and a toast is said, to St. Patrick, to gathered friends or both. Whether you “drink” the shamrock is entirely up to you! These days, festivities take place around the globe on March 17th, including parades, festivals and even in some places (like Newfoundland Labrador) where St. Patrick’s Day has become a public holiday.
Host a virtual Ceildilh – Have a Guinness
If you’re thinking about celebrating, consider rumagging through your belongings to find something green – a hat, some green beads, maybe even an old shirt that says “Kiss me I’m Irish.” If that’s too cliché for you, use your smartphone to gather with a few of your friends “virtually” using Facetime, Whatsapp or a group phonecall – and throw yourself a little party in self-isolation. Shamrocks as a centrepiece, a loaf of classic Irish soda bread and a good Irish stew and you’ve got yourself a real Irish ceilidh*. Just maybe avoid the green beer – it seems to me that can’t end well – but Guinness? Guinness is always good.
5 Tips for Celebrating St. Paddy’s Day in Self-Isolation
- Phone your friends
- Video chat with friends using Whatsapp or Facetime
- Play Irish music
- Make an Irish stew
- Pour yourself a Guinness
*pronounced Kay-leeh, a Gaelic word for social gathering