I've lived in the "South" for a mere 6 months & I'm slowly starting to notice subtle & not-so-subtle differences between Northern & Southern customs (ignore the fact that I lived in Florida which is a hybrid state, if you ask me). Exhibit A: St. Patrick's Day. I don't think Southerners give a crap...
I learned a few things in my 6 years in the great state of Illinois:
(1) There are a lot of Irish people in Chicago.
(2) There are even more Chicagoans who wish they were Irish.
(3) Alot of Chicagoans/suburban kids go to U of I.
(4) Therefore, there are also a lot of wannabe-Mcs* in Central Illinois.
(5) These folks love St. Patrick's Day.
*I think I can say that, especially since I'm married "Mc." If I just crossed the line & use a totally inappropriate racial slur, I plead ignorance!
All I really know about St. Patrick's Day is that it's an excuse for Chicagoans to drink green beer (I approve) and dye the Chicago River green. If you've never seen this before, please click on this link. For you southerners, yes, it's freaky-deaky real. Seen it with my own two eyes.
Since Matt is legitimately Irish (or at least 1/2), I invited him to contribute a guest column on the blog. I promised I'd make him corn beef & cabbage in return. Here's everything you never knew about St. Patrick's Day. Settle in folks, you're in for a history lesson, a la Matt McA:
1. Born Maewyn Succat in Britain around 385 A.D., St. Patrick was kidnapped by pirates at the age of 16 and sold to Ireland as a slave. He turned to Christianity as a solace during his 6 years as a slave. He escaped slavery and went to Gaul (France) where he changed his name to Patrick and studied in the monastery under St. Germain.
2. St. Patrick's color is actually blue (as seen above). Green became associated with St. Patrick's Day in the 19th Century. Green, according to Irish legend is worn by fairies, leprechauns, and immortals.
3. Up until the 1970s, pubs in Ireland were closed on St. Patrick's Day because it was a religious holiday.
4. St. Patrick's Day began in America in 1737 in Boston.
5. March 17th is supposedly the day St. Patrick died. Nothing is known about the cause of his death. His burial site is not known due to great anxiety of people of the Middle Ages to possess the bodies and relics of saints.
6. St. Patrick is Nigeria's patron saint, since that country was evangelized by missionaries from Ireland.
7. St. Patrick never drove snakes out of Ireland. This was a metaphor for all of the pagans he converted to Christianity. He is said to have rid the land of snakes by ringing his bell from the top of Croagh Patrick, a 2500 feet tall mountain.At this site, however, there exists an ancient church, and at the base of the mountain is a natural spring known as Patrick's well or Tobair Padraig where St. Patrick baptized the first Irish converts.
8. The shamrock, which was also called the "seamroy" by the Celts, was a sacred plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolized the rebirth of spring. According to legend, St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity ( God exists as three persons--father, son, and the Holy Spirit) to the Irish.