With St. Patrick’s Day fast approaching and crazy displays of Irish culture popping up all over America, it’s time to take a step back and learn a few facts about everyone’s favorite drinking holiday. Here is the beginners’ guide to debunking the myths of the Irish nation that get mixed up in the drunken legends and nostalgia for the Emerald Isle.
I have recruited UIUC’s finest Irish exchange students who have just experienced their first “Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day” to decipher what is true and what isn’t. Like most things at the #1 party school, you can definitely turn this into a drinking game!
*All statements below have actually been said by Irish students to UIUC students. And, yes, the Americans believed every single one…
False: Sheep hoof soup is a thing.
Sheep hoof soup is pretty popular on St. Patrick’s Day. Yep you heard me. St. Patrick’s Day is never a *baaaad* day for food. No, come on now, I’m totally joking. Many students, however, believed that the soup was really an Irish delicacy and actually called “hot hoofy wet” when the Irishmen jokingly described their favourite thing to eat…so that’s something.
True: Smoked eel is a delicacy.
Smoked eel is apparently very delicious, who knew? Legend has it that St. Patrick got rid of all the snakes in Ireland (if you are Irish you should definitely know this little factoid), so eels are the next best thing, right? Eels from Lough Neagh, in Northern Ireland, have been given protected legal status against imitators, putting them in the same bracket as Champagne. Crazy.
False: Ireland doesn’t have Wednesdays.
For economic reasons, obviously.
Just no. This is so clearly a myth, although it was believed to be true by most UIUC students who asked what Ireland was like during the first few weeks of the semester.
True: Ireland hosts a yearly festival for a goat.
Every year in the southwest of Kerry a group of people get a goat from the mountains, put him on a big stand in the middle of the town and crown him “King Puck” for a three-day festival. It is known as one of Ireland’s oldest festivals and the pubs are open an extra hour. This honestly sounds like the best thing ever.
False: Green is St. Patrick’s color.
While green is the national colour of Ireland, St. Patrick’s colour is in fact blue and is still found in symbols of both the state and the island. We’ve had it all wrong for years.
True: It’s illegal to not drink on St. Patrick’s Day.
Just kidding, but it damn well should be.
False: “Trout throwing” is a St. Patty’s Day tradition.
As explained by one of the Irish students:
“It happens in Leitrim on a river called the Drowes. Basically you just stand in a little estuary and try to catch the fish. You get five minutes to attempt to catch a Trout but there are hundreds of them, so it makes it a bit easier. If you do catch one, you take it to the shore and it’s like a shot put-type throw back into the estuary and they mark where your fish landed. The furthest throw wins and you get a plaque if you do. Obviously there are like barbecues and stuff too and then there’s a Ceili that night – just a family event really.”
I believed this for weeks. And, yes, I realize that’s a tuna in the picture. You try to find a picture of a person throwing a trout into water…
Happy St. Patrick’s Day and be safe out there, kids.