What the Hell is St. Patrick’s Day, Anyway?

By Kaitie O’Hare

St. Patrick’s Day is a confusing time. There’s a lot of green stuff, there’s a lot of alcohol, and there’s a lot of noise. Sometimes, depending upon where you are, there might even be a giant green river (I’m talking to you, Chigago. Ew). So before we all go out and get too rowdy and pass out in some shepherd’s pie this St. Patrick’s Day, let’s all take a moment to appreciate this holiday for what it really is.

Who the hell is St. Patrick?

As it turn’s out, he’s not even Irish. He was actually born in Britain under Roman rule. His connection to Irish history starts at age 16, when he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and held in captivity in Ireland for six years. In his solitude, he found Christianity, heard the voice of God, and escaped from Ireland. He once again heard the voice of God back in Britain, and returned to Ireland as a missionary, converting thousands of Irish folk from paganism to Christianity. He died on March 17th, and is now celebrated as the patron saint of Ireland. Thanks, St. Patrick!

History bonus: St. Patrick was a marketing genius. He created the Celtic cross by adding the sun, an Irish symbol, onto the cross to ease the Irish into Christianity. Now we have these awesome tattoos!:
tattoo2  tattoo3 tattoo5 tattoo6

So, why do we celebrate him?

St. Patrick’s Day started out as/is supposed to be a celebration of Christianity in Ireland, paying tribute to missionaries like St. Patrick. The Feast of St. Patrick is even a get-out-of-jail free card for Christian’s observing lent and the dietary restrictions associated with it. However, St. Patrick’s Day as we know it now has become a celebration of all things Irish. AKA, we all wear shamrocks and get drunk.

History bonus: St. Patrick was adorable. He used three leaf clovers to explain the Holy Trinity, and that’s why we wear shamrocks. Dawwwww!

And when did this whole thing start?

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was actually in America in the 18th century when some Irish soldiers in New York marched from one pub to the next. And ever since then people have been getting drunk, taking to the streets, and turning rivers green (again, Chicago. Just ew).

History bonus: The potato famine of the 19th century really got St. Patrick’s Day going in the USofA. Thanks, Irish diaspora!

So, how should I be celebrating properly?

Well, for starters, you should probably be Irish. If you’re not, throw some shamrocks on, grab a Guinness, and pretend you are. Don’t eat corned beef and cabbage, that’s for posers. Corned beef used to be one of Ireland’s biggest exports to Britain and British soldiers, but they couldn’t actually afford it themselves. They substituted with pork instead. So go get some bacon or shepherd’s pie. And maybe say some prayers for missionaries.

But wait, why do I get so ridiculously drunk on St. Patrick’s Day?

Apparently only 3% of Irish adults drink everyday there. The Portuguese, on the other hand, must have livers of steel. 45% of Portuguese adults drink everyday.

However, the Irish have mastered the art of going hard. Statistics show that on drinking occasions, the Irish drink more alcoholic beverages (beer being the drink of choice), and drink more quickly than other EU countries. So basically we should all participate in keg races this St. Patrick’s day.

Wow, I just learned a lot. Where can I celebrate my awesome new knowledge about St. Patrick’s Day in DC?

Here are just a few places to go, but we’ll announce more as we hear about them!

  • Duffy’s—2106 Vermont Ave. (U Street). Seriously, go here. Sports, music, and green beer all week starting on Sat., March 9. Pay a $5 cover on St. Patrick’s Day and enjoy a free shirt, bag pipers, Irish dancers and more.
  • Nanny O’Brien’s—3319 Connecticut Ave. (Cleveland Park). Adorably situated on the Cleveland Park strip, Nanny O’Brien’s is surprisingly one of our favorites. They serve $5 Natty Boh (Yes, Baltimore!) and whiskey shot combos every Thursday, and it’s generally a great, quiet spot to go. Stumble in for some afternoon munchies during this day of binge everything.
  • Red Derby—3718 14th St. (Petworth) Obviously we love the Red Derby, but you should go here and enjoy $2 Irish whiskeys and $4 Guinness all day. Maybe play some Jenga while you’re there, too.
  • McFadden’s—2401 Pennsylvania Ave. (Foggy Bottom). You will probably never see Coffee & Stink suggest McFadden’s for anything except this. The douchiest bar in DC is starting early with free drinks from 8 – 9am, $1 drinks from 9 –10 am, etc. Everything about this is hilariously wonderful, and also douchey.

So go forth, friends, and enjoy this St. Patrick’s Day like there’s no March 18th!