Posted in Kafevend Blog
Seeing as we had a good look at St David's Day a few weeks ago, it seems only fair that we also take a look at St Patrick's Day which is tomorrow. St Patrick's Day is a feast day in the Christian calendar and observed by the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Lutheran churches as well as the Anglican communion. Given St Patrick's role as the patron saint of Ireland, it's the Irish version of events that we often see and the slightly more secular versions at that.
St Patrick's Day was established in the early 17th century, though it had been a common celebration for many centuries prior to this. St Patrick himself was born in the late 4th century, though not in Ireland, but somewhere in Roman Britain- no one is quite certain whereabouts. His first visit to Ireland was not made in particularly good circumstances. He was captured by pirates during his teens and spent six years enslaved and working as a pig farmer before finally escaping back home. Despite this no doubt harrowing experience, he returned later in life after becoming a cleric. A few centuries later, he had become a revered figure in Ireland and a patron saint.
The traditional symbol of the shamrock in Irish culture is attributed to St Patrick, thanks to an apocryphal tale where it is said that he used it as a way of explaining the Holy Trinity. "To drown the shamrock" is an entertaining way of saying to go for a drink, particularly on St Patrick's Day. It appears to have its roots in a tradition where the men would put the shamrock they had been wearing into their last drink- whisky being a favourite- before drinking it, thus "drowning" it. You might wonder why people are enjoying alcohol on a day in the middle of Lent, but St Patrick's Day has for a long time been a day when the restrictions are lifted.
If neat whisky isn't to your taste, you might find an Irish coffee more palatable. It was invented by an Irish chef working at Foynes' port named Joe Sheridan, when he was looking for a way to perk up a group of American tourists who had endured a rough flight. The recipe is much the same as his was: coffee mixed with sugar and whisky, with cream poured on top. It's important to keep the cream as a separate layer; pouring it over the back of a spoon is a good way to achieve this if you fancy trying to make one for yourself.
If you just want to avoid having any alcohol, tea is a good choice. Ireland is after all the top tea drinking country in the world, and they have a number of companies producing a wide variety of teas. If you fancy trying an Irish blend look out for Bewley's or Thompson's family teas.