2006-03-16 / News

Everyone's Irish on St. Paddy's Day

Whether the name is Flynn or Quinn, Farrelly or Feeney, or even Bernstein, everyone gets a little swept up in the festivities in honor of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Tomorrow is March 17 and St. Patrick's Day is here. Erin Go Bragh!

Some St. Patrick's Day myths debunked

Myth: St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland.

Fact: While St. Patrick is most famous for having driven snakes out of Ireland, it was more likely the case that the snakeless country never had any to begin with. Perhaps the truth is that St. Patrick attempted to put an end to pagan practices in Ireland, and symbols of serpents were often worshipped in the pagan rituals.

Myth: Corned beef and cabbage is the traditional Irish meal on St. Patrick's Day.

Fact: Corned beef is not an Irish dish. No one in Ireland eats the stuff. The more likely protein in a traditional Irish dinner would be either bacon or ham, along with cabbage.

Myth: St. Patrick's Day parades and festivals began in Ireland.

Fact: The day was originally a holy day to commemmorate the day St. Patick is thought to have died, on March 17, 460 A.D. Pubs were not open, there were no parades. Folks went to church.

Nowadays, St. Paddy's has become a more secular holiday and is celebrated as heartily in Dublin as it is in Boston and New York. Dublin's festival extends this year from March 15 to 19 and includes parades, vintage car shows, and 4,000 performers. Some 1.5 million spectators are expected to attend the events.

Myth: Green is a lucky color and should always be worn on St. Paddy's day.

Fact: Because green was the color of the former flag of Ireland, during a period when they were controlled by Britain, the Irish consider green an unlucky color and often give a pinch or chastise people found wearing green.

Want to impress friends tomorrow? Here are some proper Irish toasts:

"Here's to absent friends, and here's twice to absent enemies."

"Thirst is a shameless disease so here's to a shameful cure."

"Here's to a wet night and a dry morning."

"May we always have a clean shirt, a clean conscience, and a bob in the pocket."

"May your glass be ever full. May the roof over your head be always strong. And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you're dead."

How many Irish are among us?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, some 34 million Americans list their heritage as Irish. This is the top ancestry choice in three states: Delaware, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, and it is in the top five choices in all states but two, Hawaii and New Mexico. There are nearly 10 times the number of Irishmen in the U.S. as there are in Ireland, which boast a population of 3.9 million residents.

Since 1820, 4.8 million immigrants of Irish descent, have come to America to begin new lives.

What's a leprechaun?

Leprechauns are a type of miniscule make-believe fairy, who allegedy live in the Irish countryside. They are mostly little old men who, according to legend, serve as the shoemakers for the fairies. They usually stand about two-feet tall. Treasure hunters in the know can track down a leprechaun by the sound of his shoemaker's hammer. The legend is that if you catch one you can force him to tell you where he hides his gold.

What does Erin Go Bragh mean?

In Irish Gaelic, Erin Go Bragh means "Ireland Forever," but in Scottish Gaelic, the same words translate into "Ireland until the day of judgement."

Hmmmmm.

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