For those of you who tend to focus on the green shots and shamrock adorned party goers opposed to the history, here’s a little origin story of Ireland’s Patron Saint and his eponymous day of revelry.
Maewyn Succat was born in Banna Venta Berniae, a town in Roman Britain, in the latter half of the century of 300 AD. Yep, Patrick was called Maewyn and he was born in Britain. Not a great start but it gets better. Maewyn, who went by the name Patricius for some reason, was kidnapped by Irish pirates at the age of 16 (it gets better soon, we promise).
While in Ireland, Patrick learned the Irish language and culture before attempting to escape back to Britain. But Patrick wasn’t very good at escaping because he was captured again, this time by the French. It was here he spent time in a monastery and got really into Christianity.
Once released and back in Britain, Patrick was apparently contacted by god, who told him to flip Ireland for the winning team, who were still pagan at the time. Like almost everyone who’s approached by a preacher outside Vauxhall station during rush hour, the Irish responded to Patrick’s rhetoric with a big old “I’m happy with my own god, thank you very much. Now get lost, ya eejit!”
But Paddy wasn’t taking no for an answer. He spent time on a small Irish island, amassing enough followers to be safe to return to the mainland. The next few years were a whirlwind of baptisms, church buildings and snakes…well, banishing snakes, except the snakes were never really there but still pretty impressive. Thus, it was hardly surprising the Irish wanted to celebrate the life of old Uncle Paddy.
What started as a religious celebration and a feast day on the date of Maewyn’s death, slowly evolved as more Irish emigrated over the pond. As the American’s have never seen a saint they couldn’t turn into a capitalist icon, the rest is history; the first Boston Paddy’s Day parade was held in 1737, a greater influx of Irish to the US during the 19th and 20th Century and eventually the idea of drinking Guinness with a shamrock on was exported around the globe.
Today, St Patrick’s Day is an opportunity for all of us to celebrate Irish culture, whether we’ve successfully rid a nation of snakes or we claim our Irish heritage through an uncle, who visited Galway in 1972; apparently the Guinness really is better over there.
There are a multitude of ways to celebrate and show solidarity with our Irish cousins. At Oddbins however, we’d recommend sampling one of the fine spirits that are produced on the Emerald Isle. These bottles are our top picks for March 17th.