Plant Your Cabbages!

March 17, 2010

Or: Happy St. Patrick’s Day!, as an old superstition says for the very best cabbages you should get out to the garden and plant them today. After that you can have some corned beef and cabbage and a good fat glass of Guinness—you deserve it.

A few more St. Patrick’s Day tidbits:

• St. Patrick was born Maewyn Succat in Roman Britain (near what is now the English-Scottish border) sometime around CE 387. At 16 he was captured by Irish pirates who took him to Ireland and sold him as a slave. Six years later he escaped, returned to England, entered the Catholic Church, and in around 431 was sent by Pope Celestine back to Ireland as “Patritius”—from the Latin for “Father”—as a missionary. There he purportedly developed and taught a very Irish kind of Catholicism, which he used with great success in converting the pagan Irish to Christianity. He died on March 17—so the very unreliable story goes—in around 460 (or in 493, depending on the source).

• The legend of “St. Patrick” grew over the centuries, and he eventually became known as the “Patron Saint of Ireland.” The supposed day of his death has been celebrated by the Irish as a Catholic feast day since at least the 1600s, and over time “St. Patrick’s Day” became a mostly secular holiday commemorating Irish identity and culture as a whole. It didn’t become an official public holiday in Ireland until 1903.

• The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the world didn’t take place in Ireland, but in New York City, in 1762. (Some sources say Boston, in 1737.) The paraders were Irish members of the British military.

• In 1848 several “Irish Aid” societies in New York, which had until then held their own parades, united to form one New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Today it’s the oldest ongoing civilian parade in the world, and the largest in the U.S., with more than 150,000 participants each year.

• St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday not only in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, but also in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. And on the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat, a British overseas territory settled in 1632 by, primarily, Irish Catholics.

• The shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the world is held in the village of Dripsey in County Cork, Ireland. It’s just 100 yards long—and goes from one of the village’s pubs to the other. (One of the participants: The Randy Handlers. Ahem.)

Do you have any more interesting St. Patty’s day trivia we can add to the list? Please let us know in the comments—we’ll be here until Happy Hour…