Why do we Celebrate St. Patrick's Day?
Now the Irish in 400 A.D. didn't have many Christians among them. Most celebrated Pagan holidays which included a lot of bonfires. Saint Patrick got them to celebrate Easter with a bonfire! He also added a sun to the cross - now it's the familiar Celtic Cross.
Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated March 17th - the day Patrick died (somewhere around 460 A.D.). So why do we celebrate Saint Patrick's Day at all? Surely you've heard of the story of Saint Paddy chasing all the snakes out of Ireland? Supposedly he stood on a hilltop (Croagh Patrick is the name now) with a wooden staff and banished all the snakes. Not true. There were never any snakes to begin with. The story is a great metaphor for the eradication of pagan celebrations and holidays and the triumph of Christianity. 200 years after Patrick returned, Ireland was completely Christianized.
In 1962 the city of Chicago died the Chicago River green. Not because it was St. Paddy's day - they were trying to find polluters! Then the city workers got the brilliant idea to dye the river green on St. Patrick's day!
Now why do we drink green beer on Saint Patrick's day? Certainly not because we are Irish. Green is not even a favorite color and some consider it bad luck. And who would spoil a good Guinness by making it green?
Let's talk about Guinness. It has only four ingredients: malted barley, hops, yeast and water. It's got fewer calories than a pint of orange juice or skim milk. The roasting of the barley gives Guinness it's color and flavor and removes fermentable sugar from the malt. The closest genetic relative to the hops plant is cannabis. Hey - maybe that's where the green comes in!
Frankly, I can't find a single good reason why we drink green beer - at least from the consumer stand point. Now, having been a bartender in my youth - green beer was not only fun to make, but fun to watch the idiots drink! You'd buy the cheapest kegs available and sell the green beer at a ridiculous price and laugh all the way to the bank.
Jerome Holst, songwriter, states the following lyrics about green beer. It's the best reason I could find for green beer (though not the best for drinking it):
Now you may wonder how green beer
Got its fancy hue
Well once upon in Ireland
A leprechaun needed to
Relieve himself and so he pissed
Into a nearby stream
That just by chance was passing by
The local brewery...(magically delicious!)
Happy St. Patrick's Day!