Slainte. That’s cheers in Irish Gaelic, if you didn’t know.
Every year, on March 17, millions of people around the world drink lots of Guinness, eat lots of corned beef and cabbage, adorn some lovely green headbands, paint shamrocks on their faces, and celebrate their Irish culture. In fact, this is an important holiday for me personally, as my grandmother was born and raised in Donegal, Ireland (she moved to Scotland on her own when she was a teenager).
My Irish culture is literally in my blood. Growing up, my mum would say things like brush your fiacla (teeth in Irish Gaelic), and Irish music was also something I feel like I could connect with deeply. My mum had a bodhran drum (small Celtic drum with a stick) and she used to play this and her flute in the local Irish pub when I was little.
I am not alone. According to a history.com article titled “St. Patrick’s Day Facts”, “there are 34.7 million U.S. residents with Irish ancestry.” Also, “there are approximately 144,588 current U.S. residents who were born in Ireland.”
Surprisingly, St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish. According to a recent Boston Globe article titled “What you don’t know about the history of St. Patrick’s Day,” he was actually British, but was kidnapped at age 15 by an Irish farmer. He was enslaved for six years, then escaped to a monastery in France, where he converted to Christianity.
Following this, according to Catholic Online, in 432, the saint returned to Ireland, where he made Christianity more widespread. He used shamrocks to explain the holy trinity. He converted thousands to Christianity over a span of 40 years, and became a saint following his death in 461.
Generally, about 5.5 million pints of Guinness are consumed daily, that number rises to about 13 million on St. Patrick’s Day. Moreover, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in Boston in 1737.
The color that was associated with St. Patrick was not originally green, it was a light blue. Green is associated with the holiday now as it reflects the luscious green landscape of the country, and green is also one of the colors on Ireland’s tri-colored flag.
Lastly, good luck trying to find that lucky four-leaf clover on St. Patrick’s Day. According to Scientific American, the odds of finding one are 1 in 10,000.
Erin go Bragh (Ireland Forever).
Ceilidh Adams is the Opinion Editor for The Comment. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org