This Sunday is Saint Patrick's Day. The fact that March 17 falls on a weekend spares most of us from the usual office celebration; platters of green bagels, accompanied by large groaning tubs of uniquely disgusting green tinted cream cheese. This is usually followed by the predictable cupcake assortment, slathered with frosting and sprinkles in a variety of unappetizing shades of green that range in coloration from a neon Kelly to an earthy fern.
This weekend, we'll be celebrating at home or at our favorite watering holes. We suspect that all of the above food offenders will make an appearance, along with the traditional corned beef and cabbage. Let's not forget the green beer, green lakes and rivers, green clothing, bushels of shamrocks and evenings of overindulgence. Along with traditional green tinted food and drink, we can all enjoy the tradition of pinching those who aren't wearing green. Sounds like a lot of fun! What are we really celebrating? Let's examine the origins of this wild and wooly tradition and you'll find the recipe for a delicious green cocktail to mix for your own celebration at the end of this writing.
As with nearly all festivals, this one has it's roots in early Christianity. Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Wales around 385 AD. His given name was Maewyn. At the age of 16, he was sold into slavery, escaping after six years. During his enslavement, he became very religious and after his escape, he traveled to Gaul where he studied for 12 years under the tutelage of the bishop of Auxerre, Saint Germain. He found his calling to be the conversion of non-believers to Christianity and over a 30 year period, opened schools and established churches and monasteries, successfully spreading Christianity all across the country. He passed away on March 17, 461 AD, hence the celebration date.
Saint Patrick's Day became an official religious feast day in Ireland during the 17th century. The celebration gradually lost it's religious significance and became a secular celebration of Irish customs. In 1903, Saint Patrick's Day became an official public Irish holiday and in the 1990's, the government began a campaign to illuminate the country and it's culture. People of Irish descent all over the globe will be celebrating their heritage on Sunday. "Wearing of the Green" will guarantee you the embrace of, and inclusion to, this warm hearted, hot tempered, irascible and utterly charming tribe, no matter what your ancestry.
To find authentic Irish food in the United States is a nearly impossible feat. If you long for a true Irish breakfast, we're about to fulfill this wish. Food Ireland makes it possible to order Irish fare online and have it delivered to your door. We found a terrific assortment; from Brennan's Soda Bread and Barry's Teas to a wide variety of digestives including McVities and Cadbury. But the best breakfast package comes from Donnelly's; an Irish breakfast pack, which includes 2 packages of Irish style sausages, 2 packages of Irish style breakfast bacon, one black pudding and one white pudding. Add your own eggs and be immediately transported to the Emerald Isle. Take a few minutes to peruse their website and you'll come away with brands and specialties you thought you'd never see again.
And now, for your own Saint Patrick's Day festivities, here is our recipe for Green Sangria, a refreshing counterpoint to corned beef, cabbage and Colcannon.
- 1 bottle of good Pinot Grigio
- 1 ounce of Midori liqueur
- 1 large Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced thinly
- 1 fresh lime, sliced thinly
- 1 cup of thinly sliced English cucumber
- 1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves
- 1 bottle of club soda
In a clear pitcher, pour in the Pinot Grigio and Midori. Add the apple, cucumber and lime slices and refrigerate for a couple of hours so that the flavors combine. When ready to serve, add the fresh mint, stir to combine and pour into ice filled glasses. Top with club soda to taste.
Trust us when we tell you that this delightful drink will please both your guests and you far more than yet another glass full of dyed green lager. Okay, okay. Add a couple of drops of green food coloring if you absolutely have to.