You know what day it is. But how much do you know about St. Patrick? Maybe you know that this is the day he died, in the fifth century. Maybe you know that this is a religious holiday in Ireland – it’s celebrated differently than here in America. Because March 17 usually falls within the forty days of Lent, no-meat restrictions are waived for Catholics so that the Irish can eat bacon and cabbage.
But did you know that Patrick was born in Britain, when it was ruled by the Romans? Did you know that he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave when he was just 16? He is credited with bringing Christianity to the Irish people.
Remember, too, that up until the mid-1800s, most of the Irish immigrants in America were Protestant. When the Great Potato Famine hit Ireland in 1845, close to 1 million poor and uneducated Irish Catholics began pouring into America to escape starvation. These new immigrants were despised – for being Catholic, for speaking strangely (we love the brogue now, don’t we?), and most of them couldn’t even land the lowest level menial job. They’ve been portrayed as drunk and uncouth.
Today is a day to celebrate, whether you have Irish ancestry or not. Be mindful of social restrictions and please, don’t drink and drive. I’ve got corned beef and cabbage in the crockpot – it’s not my favorite meal, but I’ll follow tradition once year. After all, I’m a Reynolds. And here’s a long concert from The Dubliners to round out the day. Sláinte!