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Posted in Food and Recipes | March 2014

Erin go bragh!

celebrating St. Patrick’s Day
“St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time, a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.” ~ Adrienne Cook

It sometimes seems that everyone’s a little Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, because it’s no longer a day just for the Irish people—it’s a day that can be embraced and enjoyed by anyone! And as Adrienne Cook suggests, it’s also the perfect time to start thinking about the coming warmth of spring and summer and put the cold of winter behind us.

According to, the origins of St. Patrick’s Day are rooted in religion, not in green beer and leprechauns. March 17 is the feast day of St. Patrick, and also the anniversary of his death in 461.1 The son of two Romans living in Britain, St. Patrick was actually born in Scotland—he isn’t Irish at all! As a teenager he was captured and taken to Ireland to work as a slave tending sheep. After he escaped some six years later, he entered the priesthood, eventually becoming a bishop. He was sent back to Ireland and is given credit for converting most of the country to Christianity during his 40 years on the Emerald Isle. So it wasn’t snakes he drove out of Ireland, as the myth goes, it was paganism.

In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is traditionally celebrated by going to Mass in the morning and celebrating with a meal of Irish bacon and cabbage in the afternoon.2

But outside of Ireland? Anything goes! In Chicago the Chicago River is dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day, while in Toronto there has been a St. Patrick’s Day parade through the streets of the city for the past 27 years. And chances are if you wander into any Irish pub in any city on March 17 you’ll be able to order a pint of green beer.

So Irish or not, here are some great ideas for having a little festive fun on March 17:

  • Invite friends and family over for a traditional Irish meal. Consider making a big pot of Dublin Coddle—a hearty stew of bacon, potatoes and sausages in broth—and serve it with a warm loaf of Irish soda bread.
  • Check to see if your city or town is hosting a St. Patrick’s Day parade, or find out if a local Irish Cultural Club has any festivities planned.
  • Proudly wear something green, or make something green or Irish-themed to give to friends and family. Check out this video tutorial for instructions on making a crocheted shamrock, or give this recipe for Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream  a try! For more yummy Irish dessert ideas, visit
  • Listen to Irish music. You can stream it live from the Internet if you don’t happen to have any CDs of your own. Visit for a huge list of Irish radio stations, or check out YouTube for classics like this version of When Irish Eyes Are Smiling by John McCormack.
  • Learn to Irish dance! Grab some friends and check out local dance studios or community centers to see if they have any beginner’s classes. You can even browse through YouTube for free tutorials like this one to get a little taste of Irish dance.

As for the title of this article? Erin go bragh means, “Ireland forever”, and it’s never more appropriate to say than on St. Patrick’s Day!


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