Everyone’s Irish on St. Patty’s Day! How did all this drinking get started? Let’s find out.
Why celebrate St. Patricks Day?
Saint Patrick’s feast day, as a kind of national day, was already being celebrated by the Irish in Europe in the ninth and tenth centuries. In later times, he became more and more widely seen as the patron of Ireland. Saint Patrick’s feast day was finally placed on the universal liturgical calendar in the Catholic Church due to the influence of Waterford-born Franciscan scholar Luke Waddingin the early 1600s. …
St. Patrick’s Day, feast day (March 17) of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland. Born in Roman Britain in the late 4th century, he was kidnapped at the age of 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave. He escaped but returned about 432 CE to convert the Irish to Christianity. By the time of his death on March 17, 461, he had established monasteries, churches, and schools. Many legends grew up around him—for example, that he drove the snakes out of Ireland and used the shamrock to explain the Trinity. Ireland came to celebrate his day with religious services and feasts. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on Thursday, March 17, 2022.
Why is Drinking a Part of St. Patrick’s Day?
There are a few non-historical reasons why people drink on St. Patrick’s Day in modern times. One is that crowds of people all celebrating the same thing tends to result in some alcohol consumption. In addition, mid-March is the time when hints of spring appear in many parts of the United States, which puts people in a jovial mood. And, most simply, some people drink because everyone else is doing it.
However, there is a historical explanation that may shed some light on the roots of the tradition.
According to legend, St. Patrick was staying at an inn where he was given a cup of whiskey that wasn’t full. He used this as a chance to teach a lesson on generosity. He told the innkeeper that there was a devil living with the whiskey in the inn’s cellar. St. Patrick said that this devil was the reason the innkeeper was greedy and cheated people out of their drink.
He explained that the only way the innkeeper could redeem himself and banish the devil was to fill everyone’s cup until it was overflowing. When St. Patrick returned, he discovered that the innkeeper now had a generous spirit and each cup was full. It then became custom to drink a “full measure” to celebrate the occasion.
In addition, because St. Patrick’s Day is a feast day, Christians are allowed to set aside their Lenten restrictions on food and alcohol consumption. This has further cemented the link between St. Patrick’s Day and drinking.
Enjoy all things green today and if so inclined drink a green beer for St. Patty’s sake.