Saint Patrick’s Day Q&A

We probably won’t create a green Blossom Water blend for Saint Patrick’s Day this year, but we will honor the day and the Irish with a fun little Saint Patrick’s Day Q&A.

Who was Saint Patrick?
Saint Patrick, born Maewyn Succat, was a 5th century Christian missionary. His father was a British army officer. As a young boy he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and held captive until he was a teenager. After a vision inspired him to stow away aboard a Britain-bound ship, he escaped his captors and fled home where his life was fairly uneventful until he dreamt that Ireland called him back to teach its people about God. He became a priest and eventually made his way back to Ireland. Though he was not Irish, Saint Patrick became the patron saint of Ireland.

Snakes in Ireland?
Though Ireland is famous for its lush green hills (this is why it is called the Emerald Isle), none of these hills are inhabited by snakes. An island situated off the coast of England and at about 53.3442° N, Ireland is too cold a place for most amphibians. Only three species of amphibian are found there: the Natterjack Toad, the Smooth Newt, and the Common Frog (http://www.ipcc.ie/a-to-z-peatlands/frogs/). The serpents Saint Patrick is famous for chasing out of Ireland were not reptiles, but Pagans.

Why green?
Given the lush green hills from the previous paragraph, it makes sense that Ireland’s color be green. But according to Wikipedia, Saint Patrick’s color is or was blue!

In Irish mythology, Flaitheas Éireann, the sovereignty of Ireland, was sometimes represented as a woman in a blue robe. Although the flag of the province of Mide has a blue field, when its device was used as the arms of Ireland, the field was sable. In 1542 the English king Henry VIII declared Ireland to be a kingdom and made himself King of Ireland. The coat of arms adopted for this new kingdom was a gold harp on a blue field. This still appears in the lower left quarter of the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Patrick’s_blue)

Green is one of the colors of the tri-color Irish flag, which is green white and orange. The Irish government has described the symbolism behind each color as being that of green representing the Gaelic tradition of Ireland, orange representing the followers of William of Orange in Ireland, and white representing the aspiration for peace between them. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Ireland)

“Wearing of the green” was originally symbolic of the shamrock Saint Patrick used to illustrate the Holy Trinity and later became associated with Irish nationalism in the 1790’s.

Why green beer?
Ireland is generally thought of as a Christian country that is predominantly Catholic and Protestant. Saint Patrick’s Day often falls during Lent, the 40-day repentant observance many Catholics follow in preparation for Easter. Celebrants often give up vices like alcohol or sweets for the duration, but on Saint Patrick’s Day such prohibitions were lifted and dancing, drinking, and feasting commenced with vigor. Beer was part of the celebration.

What is the deal with leprechauns?
Leprechauns are the fairy icons of Irish folklore. They are legendary diminutive men who tell stories and guard treasure. Like the Coyote of North American legends, the leprechaun is an enchanted trickster who can change your fate. Leprechauns are more often associated with Irish folklore than with Saint Patrick’s Day.

Are you Irish?
On Saint Patrick’s Day, “There are only two kinds of people in the world,” an Irish saying goes: “The Irish and those who wish they were.” With more than 33.3 million U.S. residents claim Irish ancestry, maybe there are more of the first kind.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!