St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day observes of the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The holiday has evolved into a celebration of Irish culture with parades, special foods, music, dancing, drinking and a whole lot of green.
If you really want to impress friends or family this St. Patrick's Day, here are a few simple Irish phrases to use!
Who Was St. Patrick?
St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity’s most widely known figures. But for all of his prevalence in culture—namely the holiday held on the day of his death that bears his name—his life remains somewhat of a mystery.
Many of the stories traditionally associated with St. Patrick, including the famous account of his banishing all the snakes from Ireland, are false, the products of hundreds of years of exaggerated storytelling.
1. How to say “Happy St. Patrick's Day” in the Irish language?
The most common way of wishing someone “Happy St. Patrick's Day” in Irish is: “Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona duit!”
2. How to say "wetting the shamrock" in Irish.
"Wetting the shamrock" is an old Irish saying meaning "to go for a drink," particularly on St. Patrick's Day, so if you plan on meeting someone to celebrate try this:
St. Patrick’s Day Traditions
The shamrock, which was also called the “seamroy” by the Celts, was a sacred plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolized the rebirth of spring. By the seventeenth century, the shamrock had become a symbol of emerging Irish nationalism. As the English began to seize Irish land and make laws against the use of the Irish language and the practice of Catholicism, many Irish began to wear the shamrock as a symbol of their pride in their heritage and their displeasure with English rule.
Music is often associated with St. Patrick’s Day—and Irish culture in general. From ancient days of the Celts, music has always been an important part of Irish life. The Celts had an oral culture, where religion, legend and history were passed from one generation to the next by way of stories and songs.
Corned Beef and St. Patrick's Day Foods
Each year, thousands of Irish Americans gather with their loved ones on St. Patrick’s Day to share a “traditional” meal of corned beef and cabbage.
Though cabbage has long been an Irish food, corned beef only began to be associated with St. Patrick’s Day at the turn of the 20th century.
Irish immigrants living on New York City’s Lower East Side substituted corned beef for their traditional dish of Irish bacon to save money. They learned about the cheaper alternative from their Jewish neighbors.
One icon of the Irish holiday is the Leprechaun. The original Irish name for these figures of folklore is “lobaircin,” meaning “small-bodied fellow.” Belief in leprechauns probably stems from Celtic belief in fairies, tiny men and women who could use their magical powers to serve good or evil.
In Celtic folktales, leprechauns were cranky souls, responsible for mending the shoes of the other fairies. Though only minor figures in Celtic folklore, leprechauns were known for their trickery, which they often used to protect their much-fabled treasure. Leprechauns have their own holiday on May 13, but are also celebrated on St. Patrick's, with many dressing up as the wily fairies
3. How do I ask for a drink in Irish?
After impressing with your Irish lingo don't leave it all go to waste when calling for a drink! Here's how you can call a drink or a pint at the bar!
“Píonta Guinness, le do thoil,” means “a pint of Guinness, please.”
"Pionta" means “pint,” Guinness" means, well, “Guinness!" and "le do thoil” is an Irish way to say “please.”
And it's pronounced, "Pyun-tah Guinness, leh duh huh-il."
How St. Patrick's Day Took on New Life in America
Every March 17, the United States becomes an emerald country for a day. Americans wear green clothes and drink green beer. Green milkshakes, bagels and grits appear on menus. In a leprechaun-worthy shenanigan, Chicago even dyes its river green.
Revelers from coast to coast celebrate all things Irish by hoisting pints of Guinness and cheering bagpipers, step dancers and marching bands parading through city streets. These familiar annual traditions weren’t imported from Ireland, however. They were made in America.
In contrast to the merry-making in the United States, March 17 has been more holy day than holiday in Ireland. Since 1631, St. Patrick’s Day has been a religious feast day to commemorate the anniversary of the 5th-century death of the missionary credited with spreading Christianity to Ireland. For several centuries, March 17 was a day of solemnity in Ireland with Catholics attending church in the morning and partaking of modest feasts in the afternoon. There were no parades and certainly no emerald-tinted food products, particularly since blue, not green, was the traditional color associated with Ireland’s patron saint prior to the 1798 Irish Rebellion.
4. How to say a toast in Irish.
According to a reader poll, the Irish word "sláinte" is the most used Irish expression in America.
Pronounced as "SLAHN-chə," meaning to "good health," it can be used in different contexts, but it's perhaps most often used as a toast before drinking.
Offer a "sláinte" as you begin to sip your pint of Guinness or glass of whiskey on St. Patricks Day!