St. Patrick’s Day is finally here. While it is an Irish tradition and festival, it is celebrated across the globe, even in those places where there are scarcely any Irish people with great fervor.
The day has two names, though St. Patrick’s Day is overwhelmingly used by people across the world, the festival is also known as St. Paddy’s Day. Many people tend to call the day as Feast of Saint Patrick too. It is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March.
While its religious connotations have increasingly been relegated into insignificance, it is the cultural aspect of the festival that attracts most attention these days. The festival is celebrated on the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461).
Though it has become a major festival in the US, two hundred years ago, the Irish immigrants might have never visualized this actually happening.
In the early nineteenth century more than two hundred thousand Irish immigrants entered the US, following one of the worst famines in their homeland. A report in the Irish Genealogy says, “The arrival of destitute and desperate Catholics, many of whom spoke only Irish or a smattering of English, played out very differently. Suspicious of the majority Anglo-American-Protestants (a historically-based trait that was reciprocated), and limited by a language barrier, illiteracy and lack of skills, this wave of Irish immigrants sought refuge among their own kind…At this time, when famine was raging in Ireland, Irish immigration to America came from two directions: by transatlantic voyage to the East Coast Ports (primarily Boston and New York) or by land or sea from Canada, then called British North America”.
In the given circumstances, it was simply impossible to visualize a great future that the Irish community might have in the US now. From the very beginning of their arrival, the Irish immigrants celebrated St. Patrick’s Day as a way to honor their heritage while embracing their new homeland. It often came with parades, food and a little bit of partying.
US today quotes Eamonn McGrath, a native Irishman and executive director of the Irish Cultural Center of New England as saying that the day can be compared to Fourth of July, where people spend time with family, attend a special Catholic mass, drink, eat and go to a parade. “You have to really leave it to know what you’ve left…It makes sense that it’s more poignant and more expressive” says McGrath.
What to eat
White Soda Bread and Scones
1 lb (450g/4 cups) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 level teaspoon/1/2 American teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon/1/2 American teaspoon bread soda [baking soda] sour milk or buttermilk to mix – 12-14fl oz (350-400ml/1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups) approx.
First fully preheat your oven to 230ºC/450ºF/Gas Mark 8.
Sieve the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre. Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well floured worked surface.
Pat the dough into a round about 1 1/2 inches (2.5cm) deep and cut a cross on it to let the fairies out! Let the cuts go over the sides of the bread to make sure of this. Bake in a hot oven, 230ºC/450ºF/Gas Mark 8 for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6 for 40 minutes or until cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.
2. Guinness chocolate cheesecake
I am sure this will be enjoyed by your entire family. The dessert would be a winning addition to any St Patrick’s Day meal, appealing to beer-drinkers, cake fanatics and chocoholics alike.
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup Guinness
Mix the graham cracker crumbs, cocoa powder, sugar, and butter and press into the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan.
Melt the chocolate in the cream in a double boiler.
Cream the cream cheese.
Mix in the sugar, chocolate, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, and Guinness.
Pour the mixture into the spring form pan.
Bake in a preheated 350F/180C oven for 60 minutes.
Turn off heat and leave cheesecake in the oven with the door slightly ajar for 60 minutes.
Let it cool completely.
Chill the cheesecake in the fridge overnight.
What to wear
Green is the favorite color on St. Patrick’s Day. Another unique tradition that has grown in popularity every year is the annual dyeing of the Chicago River for St. Patrick’s Day. So everything green is seen as an Irish attire on St. Patrick’s day.