This St. Patrick’s Day, have a more authentic celebration with a little throwback to the holiday’s Irish roots and origin. It turns out there’s been some misunderstood facts behind the tradition, so Mango Mythbusters is here to set the story straight. Here’s five ways you can celebrate this year’s St. Patrick’s Day with stunning historical accuracy.
1. Don’t Bring Snakes to the Bar. Legend has it that our beloved St. Patrick (A.K.A Maewyn Succat) is responsible for banishing all snakes from Ireland, explaining why the Emerald Isle remains snakeless to this day. As much as we love the idea of a shamrock-toting priest dramatically driving every snake out of the country, history – and geography – has proven this myth to be false. In fact, snakes simply couldn’t make the trip from Britain to Ireland due to the freezing cold seas that created an impassable barrier. More likely, this legend is meant to be a metaphor for St. Patrick banishing what he saw as evil forces in Ireland by promoting Christianity. Sorry, St. Patrick, you’ve banished a lot of things in your time (Paganism in Ireland, sobriety in the United States…), but you can’t take credit for exiling snakes from Ireland. So, do yourself a historical favor and leave your snakes (rubber, paper, or otherwise) at home this St. Patrick’s Day.
2. Avoid Leprechauns (even if they have a pot of gold). We know this sounds crazy. St. Patrick’s Day is all about chasing a leprechaun’s pot of gold, and what better day to chase the rainbow than St. Patrick’s Day? Well, in the name of historical accuracy, take off your running shoes and let the little fairy apprentices be on their way. Turns out, the original leprechaun was a bitter, old, brutish, and often alcoholic creature. So, St. Patrick’s Day would have presented some issues for traditional leprechauns. Irish mythology claims they worked in service roles for fairies and bitterly hid their fortunes (pots of gold!) at the end of rainbows for safe keeping. Take heed: if you go chasing rainbows, you won’t find the adorable, green little mascot from your favorite cereal. Instead, you might be brutally attacked by a disgruntled fairy servant. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
3. Wear Blue. This year, risk the pinch that may come if you’re caught not wearing green. Try and beat your offender to the punch (because really, who does that?) by dishing out this fascinating fun fact about the St. Patrick’s Day of yesteryear. For an authentic Throwback Thursday experience, travel all the way back to 1783 when the Order of St. Patrick established blue, not green, as their official color. Come 1798, the Irish Rebellion gave rise to a new tradition by wearing a green clover on their lapel, commencing the relentless green ritual we know and love today. Green’s not your color? Use this little known fact to defend your blue-wearing ways on March 17th.
4. Skip the Pub. Hear us out: St. Patrick’s Day hasn’t always been about drinking (and drinking, and drinking). In fact, the holiday used to be solemnly observed as a religious holiday, complete with sobriety, mass, and community feasts. Over time, Irish-Americans gave new life to the holiday with proud parades, joyous celebrations, and ornate banquets – all of which eventually lead to indulging with spirits and booze. Back in Ireland, the strong Catholic presence kept Irish bars closed on St. Patrick’s Day until the 1960s. The law was finally repealed in 1961, and the Irish gladly joined in on the booze-soaked celebrations taking place around the globe.
5. Don’t Call the Irish Lucky. Most of us know that, historically, the Irish weren't really all that lucky. Whether it's conflicts with Vikings, turbulent colonization, or the Potato Famine, the Irish have had their fair share of trouble. So why the optimistic expression? Turns out it’s an American made phrase. During the gold and silver rushes of the late 19th century, Irish Americans enjoyed a prominent presence as some of the most successful miners. The other miners were reluctant to attribute this success to actual skill, and the phrase “Luck of the Irish” spread like wildfire – really, really jealous wildfire. So before you start calling your Irish or Irish-American friends lucky, think twice – you might be chalking up their skill and aptitude to pure chance.
Looking to make your own luck this year? Mango’s free “Learn Irish” course will teach you fun, practical conversations and culture just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Consider us your lucky charm – stick with us and your St. Patrick’s Day is sure to sham-rock (sorry, we had to).