David, the real brains behind this website, suggested a week ago that I write a St. Patrick’s themed blog. Seemed like a good idea at the time, as so many of us begin to mark spring riding and rallies that generally coincide with this holiday. And let’s face it, the most common activity associated with the holiday, namely drinking, is also a favorite pastime of more than a few bikers. My plan was to write about the meaning of the day, how it’s celebrated here in the US, and what it might mean to guys and gals who ride. Easy. Until I sat down t the computer and listed what I knew about St. Patrick’s Day.
- St. Patrick, who was, ummm a Saint – of what I had no idea
- People wear green
- Parades abound
- There’s a lot of imbibing of alcohol
- Leprechauns – short dudes who wear green and hide a pot o’ gold
- It’s very important to Irish people
That’s it. Worse, I had no idea how each of these tied together. So, I avoided writing this blog. I’m neither Catholic nor Irish, and I’m not fan of parades or green beer. Clearly, I’m not the guy to write any definitive or informative stuff about this holiday. Then, I woke this morning and realized that it was a disservice to my many brothers who identify with the day to remain ignorant — so, I did a little research. What I found was rather interesting…
- St. Patrick wasn’t Irish. That’s right. The day commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, and it’s patron saint, though Patrick himself was born in England. He didn’t set foot in Ireland until kidnapped by Irish raiders of the family estate at the age of 16. It was after escaping and returning to Britain six years later that Patrick joined the priesthood, and it took roughly until he turned 47 before establishing Ireland as home. He died on March 17, 461 AD. Oh, and his given name was Maewyn, not Patrick.
- Originally, the color associated with St. Patrick was blue, not green! What?! Green, and it’s link to Ireland, slowly built after the Irish Rebellion of 1798, but it’s blue that St. Pat would likely have worn.
- The first “official” St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in NY in 1848. It took until 1931 before Dublin sanctioned its own. The city of Belfast didn’t even have its own parade until 1998!
- Oh yes, every Irish pub around the globe is packed on March 17th, but between 1903 and 1961, pubs were legally forced to close on that date. Seems there was a wee bit too much partying during lent…
- The only leprechaun I could find was passed out on the sidewalk, and didn’t seem to have his pot of gold nearby. He looked suspiciously like a little dude I saw at the Full Throttle Saloon.
- Irish people take this holiday VERY seriously. Bringing up any of the five points above leads to argument, brawls and spilt beer. So, just join whatever fun you can find and don’t worry about the reasons why you’re there. No one else will remember by tomorrow morning anyway.