March into St. Patty’s Day!

We’ve got parades, pickings and patron saints!

Festive green outfits, corned beef, lots of shamrocks, a dash of leprechaun, and consumption of, well let’s just say "beverages." These are the things most Americans associate with St. Patrick’s Day.

Maybe you’re on board with some (or all) of the above. Maybe you have your own traditions. Or maybe you’re looking to start a healthier holiday practice, such as a charity walk, run or awareness event for National Kidney Month!

From history to trivia to plain old blarney, we’ve got you covered. And if you’re hungry, you’re also in luck – we have some awesome kidney-friendly recipes to share!

Where’s the Corned Beef?

In the U.S., it’s practically a law that you eat corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. Well, guess what? It’s not even a traditional Irish dish!

  • In 1700s Ireland, beef was a pricey export, so this meal was never part of celebrations. But when Irish settlers came to the U.S., they found corned beef was cheap, as was cabbage. A new tradition was born!
  • As for the "corn" in corned beef. The name comes from the corn-size pieces of salt used in its preparation.

In centuries-old Ireland, the feast of St. Patrick would have included Irish stew and soda bread, or maybe pork and potatoes. For great kidney-friendly Irish dishes and recipes, see the following links:

Beverages
St. Patty’s Day has long been associated with tipping a pint, but here are some frothy facts you may not be aware of:

  • According to Fortune magazine, ~13 million pints of Guinness beer get consumed on March 17.
  • A 2012 estimate had the worldwide St. Patty’s Day bar tab (for beer) at $245 million.
  • It was once a dry holiday in Ireland. A law enacted in 1903 declared the holiday a strictly religious one, which meant pubs were closed. The law was overturned in 1970.
  • Beer isn’t the only popular drink dyed green. Since 1970, McDonald’s has sold 60 MILLION Shamrock Shakes.

The Saint
Saint Patrick is best known for bringing Christianity to the Republic, and for allegedly driving out all the snakes in the land. But saints be praised, there’s a whole lot more to know!

  • St. Patrick wasn’t Irish! In fact, his parents were Roman citizens and he was born in either Scotland or Wales.
  • St. Patrick wasn’t named Patrick! According to Irish legend, his birth name was Maewyn Succat. Happy Maewyn Succat Day!?
  • Saint Patrick didn’t wear green! He wore light blue (the original "color" of the holiday).
  • Saint Patrick probably never saw a snake! Scientific evidence shows Ireland’s reptiles would have died off in the Ice Age.

U.S. Traditions

Some of the biggest (and smallest) parties and longest-standing traditions happen right here in the United States. March is also National Kidney Month, so it could be a perfect opportunity to mix the "wearin’ o’ the green" with "awareness o’ the cause."

  • The world’s shortest St. Patty’s Day parade, in Hot Springs, Arkansas, runs a whopping 98 feet!
  • The Big Apple goes really big with one of the world’s largest parades. It began in 1762, and draws more than 150,000 marchers and 2 million spectators!
  • Since 1962 Chicago has sold St. Patrick’s Day down the river by dying the Chicago River green. It takes 40 tons of vegetable dye to get the right tint.
  • Knoxville, TN, plays host to Knox Shamrock Fest, sponsored by the East Tennessee Kidney Foundation, and featuring a two-day festival and the annual Lucky Kidney Run.
  • There are also several Kidney Walks taking place throughout the month.

Shamrocks
From construction paper cut-outs to T-shirts to tattoos, nothing shows the Irish spirit like displaying a bright green clover. But did you know?…

  • Shamrocks are not the "official" symbol of Ireland. It’s the harp!
  • Legend says… the leaves of a four-leaf clover stand for Hope, Faith, Love, and Luck.
  • Your odds of finding a four-leaf clover? About 1 in 10,000!
  • Every March 17, the Prime Minister of Ireland presents the U.S. President with a decorative bowl full of shamrocks.

Leprechauns
Mostly we think of leprechauns as magical miniature men who hoard gold and, sometimes, breakfast cereal. Here are a few "little" known pieces of trivia.

  • Leprechauns are fairies, not elves.
  • Leprechauns are cobblers. They spend most of their time making and repairing shoes.
  • There are no female leprechauns.
  • Leprechauns are protected under European law. No, really. Look it up.
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