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Symbols and Traditions , St Patrick’s Day

Why would a snake play a role in the celebration of the religious holiday known as St Patrick’s Day? What is a food item that was used as a substitute for one of the more traditional Irish dishes? In this article, you will learn the significance of the snake and a dish you can prepare when you wish to serve a St. Patrick’s Day dinner.

The Snake

How is it that snakes were associated with the religious patron of Ireland , St. Patrick? Many tales speak of the saint banishing the land of all snakes during his mission to the country. It is said that he stood on top of a hill (which is now known as Croagh Patrick) and with just a staff comprised of wood by his side , he was able to send all the snakes in Ireland fleeing. But, there’s just one problem with this equation.

The island nation never had any snakes and one of the most famous tales regarding St. Patrick actually grew out of a metaphor used to refer to the elimination of pagan ideology from Ireland , thus the “banishing of the snakes.” His triumph was not with any serpent, but with the role that he played in spreading Christianity throughout the region. After 200 years of Patrick’s arrival, Ireland had been completely converting to Christianity.

Corned Beef

On St. Patrick’s Day, one of the most popular dishes served during the holiday was a ‘traditional’ meal comprised of corned beef and cabbage. While corned beef is often seen as an Irish food item, it had only begun to enter St. Patrick’s Day feast at the turn of the century , joining the traditional servings of cabbage. Irish immigrants that settled in New York City’s Lower East Side could not afford the usual Irish bacon used to prepare traditional dishes, so they used corned beef as a substitute as a way to save money. This less expensive alternative originated from their Jewish neighbors.

The Blarney Stone

During St. Patrick’s Day, it isn’t uncommon to hear of people paying a visit to the Blarney Stone , a stone set in a wall of the Blarney Castle tower, which is located in the Irish village of none other than Blarney. Legend has it that if you visit the Blarney Castle and place a kiss on the stone, you will enjoy the gift of articulacy and the powers of persuasion.

Thousands of tourists make a trip to visit the Blarney Castle, which has a history that dates back to 1446 when Cormac Laidhiv McCarthy (Lord of Muskerry) had it built. The walls of the castle are thick, measuring 18 feet, which helped stop the attacks of opponents. However, it is the Blarney Stone that truly attracts visitors, who come to test out its ‘magic.’ Some say the stone is magical because an old woman supposedly cast a spell on the stone as a reward for a king that saved her from drowning. It is said that when the king kissed the stone, he was able to speak in a sweet and convincing manner.

The stone is no easy attraction to reach. It is positioned between the main castle wall and the parapet. People attempting to kiss the stone must lie on his or her back and bend backward (as well as downward), while holding onto the iron bars for support.