St. Patrick’s Day Explained

St. Patrick’s Day Explained

In the US, over 33.1 million people claim Irish Heritage, but nearly 127 million Americans become Irish overnight on St. Patrick’s Day.  What is it about March 17th that makes everyone want to celebrate St. Patrick? Who was he? Why do they turn the Charles River green in his name? We answer your questions below.

St. Patrick: The Backstory

Believe it or not, St. Patrick (real name: Maewyn Succat) was not actually Irish. He was born a nobleman in AD 387, in Scotland- and was eventually captured by Irish pirates around age 16. During this time, he became accustomed to many Irish customs and rituals.

It is said that Patrick had a couple dreams that would shape his influence in the years to come. In one, God told him his “ship was ready” (he returned home by ship shortly thereafter). In another, he was told he was the “voice of the Irish” – and then heard the voices of those he left in Ireland begging for him to return.

After these events, history tells us that St. Patrick did return to Ireland with a mission to spread Christianity. Despite the dangers, he persisted and was able to build a solid foundation- coming across many people who over receptive to his teachings. After 3o years of work, it is said he converted over 135,000 people, established 300 churches, and consecrated 350 bishops. March 17th, AD 461 was believed to be his day of death and has been celebrated by the Irish ever since.

Why Green?

82% of people who participate in St. Patrick’s Day celebrations do so by wearing the color green, but why? Apparently, once upon a time the color for St. Patrick was blue- but as Ireland became known as the “Emerald Isle”, things changed.
The reality is green has become the color for a multitude of reasons. Irish folklore features Leprechauns,  little tricksters who would wear green outfits as to blend in with their surroundings. While the stories of leprechauns have evolved over time, the general idea is they were jerks going around pinching people who did not sport their color.
One of the more simple explanations for the emphasis on green is tied to Shamrocks. St. Patrick actually used them  in his teachings as a symbol for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Obviously they are green, and they represent Spring. It just works!
Also, if you look at the Irish flag, you will notice the green and orange stripes are separated by a white one. This is actually very symbolic for the religious peace the country experienced. Irish Catholics celebrate St. Patrick by wearing green, Protestants with Orange.


Popular St. Patrick’s Day Traditions

Every year, the Chicago River is dyed green by the Rowan and Butler family. They’ve been doing it for years!

29% of people who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day do so by going to a bar or restaurant to partake in festive drinking. The most popular beverages for the occasion are Guinness Beer and Irish Whiskey. People will drink 3 million pints of Guinness beer for the celebration, vs. 600,000 any given day of the year.

New York City hosted the first St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1762. Ever since, parades have become an opportunity for the Irish to flaunt their colors, numbers and overall strength. You will find parades in nearly every state in America.

It’s a little funny, but people tend to enjoy a traditional Irish dinner of corned beef, boiled potatoes and carrots. Oddly enough, the actual meal the Irish would have had wouldn’t have included corned beef, but Irish bacon. Regardless, the dinner is a symbol of  solidarity with all St. Patrick did for his people.

St. Patrick's Day explained

We have some fun and festive products to help you enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day!


The Holiday Family Traditions You’ve Been Looking For

Holiday Family Traditions

It’s never too late to implement Holiday family traditions, especially during the winter season! You don’t even need to celebrate Christmas to enjoy quality family time that will leave pleasant, long lasting memories for years to come (though there are plenty of Christmas themes to take advantage of too!).

Watch Corny Movies

This particular idea isn’t exclusive to the holidays but you’re definitely more likely to find extremely corny movies! Few things feel as comfy as snuggling up with your loved ones under blankets while watching a laugh-inducing film. Besides, not every Christmas flick is pure trash- you may find yourself pleasantly surprised by the charming characters and warm storylines. Point is- if your couch is a  predictable destination for you and your family this year- may as well share the screen with everyone else. My suggestion? Put all your devices in a nearby basket and set rules to prevent each other from being sucked into their feeds and timelines.

Exchange Christmas Pajamas

Every year my family looks forward to this. My mom is really great at sewing and years ago instilled the tradition of making each of us our own flannel pajamas. We always look forward to seeing what material design she chose for us- from flowers to cats- it’s always special. The best part is getting to open them on Christmas Eve so we can show off our new digs on Christmas morning as we enjoy the day.
While you don’t need to sew your own, you can certainly adapt this tradition for your own family. Maybe assign each member a person to buy PJ’s for- or put one person in charge and rotate every year. No matter which way you do it- everyone is sure to enjoy the extra festive touch to the holiday. Consider involving designs and styles that are not limited to Christmas so they can get year-round use of them (but always connecting them to the memories of your family and the traditions you all keep).

Hunt for Presents

You’re family probably enjoys a good Easter Egg hunt every year right? Why not bring some of that energy and spark to this holiday? If you have younger children, they will love the idea of hunting for their presents! Pick some clever hiding spots, incorporate ‘notes from Santa’ that have hints on them- and maybe save the biggest presents for the hardest locations. Instead of sitting by the tree all day- encourage some traditional game style activity.
Everyone will have a little bit more appreciation for their presents when they had to earn them!

Cookie Swap and/or Yankee Swap

If you have older children, perhaps in lieu of some of the more ‘childish’ traditions out there you could start something new! A family favorite on the farm is our annual Yankee Swap- where we invite our closest family and friends over for a night of fun. Everyone not only brings a present under $15 but also partakes in a pot luck dinner.  After we eat we all pick a number (1 – however many are there) and start opening presents in numeric order. It’s always fun to see what people get, and how hardcore people are when they see something they want.
Want something a little less potentially barbaric? Go with the cookie swap! Everybody bakes (or buys) their favorite holiday cookies and brings enough so everyone can go home with some of each kind. Even younger families can enjoy this one- plenty of sweets to go around leading up to Christmas!

Pick out and Decorate the Christmas Tree

Holiday Family Traditions

When you have older children it can be hard to keep up with some of the traditions you may have had when they were younger. One way to keep some of the magic alive is by making a point of getting together every year to pick out the family Christmas tree and spend a few hours decorating it together. It’s a great way to go through all the old ornaments made as children and collected through life. Nothing is more symbolic than gathering around as a family with a mission to celebrate life, nature and beauty.

Pick a Favorite Dessert or Meal and Serve it Every Year

Some families scramble every year to decide what to have for their family dinner on Christmas. This year, sit down with everyone and talk about the meals they’ve most enjoyed over the years. From appetizers, main courses to desserts- have everyone contribute and then set the plan in motion!
Our family always has the same meals every holiday- but we often switch it up by assigning different people to make different things. That way there is always some variety in presentation and recipe. By instilling this tradition, mouths will start watering for next year even just a few hours after eating dinner! This is also a guaranteed way to ensure everyone gets something they will enjoy. Don’t let any one member of the family struggle with the meal planning anymore  and everyone will benefit! Eating is one of the biggest holiday family traditions, might as well get the most out of it 🙂