As we all should know, yesterday was St. Patrick's Day. Yay, drinking, partying, eating, etc. Right? Well, sure, on this side of the pond. But it boggled my mind yesterday when I was talking to my office neighbor and he stated quite boldly that he had no idea where the holiday came from or what it was about. Also, I got severely... annoyed... yesterday as everyone talked about corned beef and cabbage all day. Now let me say, we made corned beef and cabbage... I likes me some of that. But then, we'll talk about that in a bit!
First things first. Saint Patrick's Day. SAINT Patrick's Day. Can you tell that I am trying to emphasize the word Saint? Guess what that means... yup, yup, this originated as a holiday of Roman Catholics. Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. He was a Roman boy who was kidnapped and sold into slavery on the island of Ireland. He was put to work as a shepherd for six years for his master, a druid and clan chief. During his time on the island, he learned the Irish celtic tongue fluently. But more importantly, he prayed every day while tending the flock. After six years, he managed to escape and headed back home to devote his life to God. He eventually went back to Ireland to convert the Irish natives to Christianity. There are many other miracles and things to know about his life and missonary work, but I think you get the idea now.
This has grown to be a national holiday in Ireland and only recently are the Irish attempting to use it for tourism. Until the mid-1970's the pubs were not allowed to be open or to serve alcohol because it was a religous feast day. But you can look this sort of information up online if it interests you... Now that you know it exists.
Now, as to corned beef and cabbage... I grant that this is an American tradition and I don't begrudge anyone eating it and enjoying it, even on St. Patrick's Day. But please, don't call it an Irish tradition. The Irish in Ireland don't eat it. The tradition started here in America when the Irish came over they were the poorest portion of the population. As the poorest group, they didn't have much money for meat. So when they found that the Jewish population had this really cheap cut of meat, the brisket, they used that. Because it is a cheap cut of meat, they brined the meat to make it more tender. Cabbage? Well, again, it was, and is, normally a very cheap vegetable.
So go ahead and eat up the corned beef and cabbage! But please, don't call it an Irish tradition. Call it Irish-American or even just American! and don't forget the Bean-O!