St. Patrick’s Day is coming up soon, so I wanted to lay out ahead of time some of the common (and not so common) “green” things associated with St. Patrick’s Day.
St. Patrick is known as the patron saint of Ireland. But, St. Patrick’s Day is not just a commonly observed Irish holiday anymore, countries and individuals across the globe, whether Irish or not, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th, the anniversary of his death. To the Irish it is considered as a religious or holy day and has been for over 1000 years.
Even though St. Patrick’s Day falls during the Christian season of Lent (which prohibits the consumption of meat on Fridays and Ash Wednesday), those prohibitions were often waived so Irish families would traditionally celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with large evening feasts filled with bacon and cabbage.
Over the years more and more commercialism set it and today’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are commonly associated with many things green:
1) Most people consider Corned Beef and Cabbage (green) to be the traditional “Irish meal” for St. Patrick’s Day. But like I mentioned above, bacon and cabbage was actually the meal of choice when it came to Irish families. So even though many of you may have Corned Beef and Cabbage, if you are looking for tradition on this St. Patrick’s Day – Bacon and Cabbage it is.
2) Don’t forget to chase that traditional Irish meal with a good, green beer. There are many different beers to choose from and it depends on whether you want a beer made in a “green” or environmentally-friendly manner or a beer that is green in color.
If you are looking for a beer that is green in color, how about making your own? Here’s a quick video to show you how you can make your own green beer:
If you are looking for an environmentally-friendly “green” beer, here are a couple of options: Goose Island’s Green Line Pale Ale or Samuel Smith’s Organic Lager or Ale. And if you want some tips on what to look for when buying a “green” beer, you can check out this beer buying guide. Buying local is also a great way to make a greener beer choice.
3) Leprechauns are considered as a sort-of Irish fairy. They are often portrayed as small men with green hats and clothes and commonly associated with rainbows and pots of gold. Leprechauns are the “self-appointed guardians of ancient treasure (left by the Danes when they marauded through Ireland), burying it in crocks or pots.” But, a word of warning….if you see one, don’t take your eye off him, because Leprechauns can vanish in an instant.
4) Shamrocks (otherwise known as white clovers) are associated with good luck, especially those ever-elusive four-leaf clovers. The white clover, on its own, was regarded by the early Celts of Wales as a good luck charm against evil spirits. So if you are looking for some good luck this St. Patrick’s Day, maybe a white clover is the way to go.
Don’t forget to check out those leaves though, as they traditionally symbolize: one for faith, two for hope, three for love and four for luck.
5) The Chicago River being dyed green. Started way back in 1962, dyeing the Chicago River has become as much a tradition for St. Patrick’s Day as eating Corned Beef and Cabbage (oops, I mean Bacon and Cabbage). The first year 100 pounds of dye was used and the river stayed green for an entire week. The next year they only used 50 pounds of dye and the river stayed green for 3 days. The year after that they settled on 25 pounds and that kept the river green for the entire day.
In 1966, environmentalists accused the city of polluting the river with the dye it was using. After a number of trials, a new compound made of vegetable dyes was created and is the dye that is still used today. If you are interested, you can also read the whole story on how they started greening the Chicago River.
For those of you who will be in Chicago this year, they will be turning the river green starting at 10:45am on March 13th.
Check out this time-lapse video showing the greening of the Chicago River:
Now, of course, you also should keep in mind basic environmental green activities like recycling, eating your “greens” and keeping all things in moderation when you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year. What’s your favorite green (color or environmental) way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?