Festive Food of Ireland
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, responsible, we are told, for converting the pagan Irish to Christianity. He used the shamrock to illustrate how three separate leaves united by one stem resembled the Trinity. To this day, the shamrock, the emblem of Ireland, is proudly worn in mid-March on St. Patrick’s Day.
St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland’s principal feast day, came as a welcome break during Lent in the days of austere fasting. As children, we were all expected to ‘give up’ something for Lent. Our beloved sweets and sticky toffee bars were the most obvious if reluctant choice, and any that came our way were carefully hoarded so we could have a mighty feast on St. Patrick’s Day.
Children still wear little green badges, and the girls sport green ribbons in their hair. In many parts of the country people go to a ceili of traditional Irish dancing in the evening. Men who ‘take the pledge’ and forswear alcohol for Lent) still a surprisingly common occurrence) often celebrate feast day by drinking the Pota Padraig.
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by Irish people both at home and abroad. In far-flung corners of the world, the Irish come together on this day to tuck into corned beef and cabbage or boiled bacon and cabbage, the traditional emigrants’ meal.
(Excerpt from The Festive Food of Ireland by Darian Allen)