The person who was to become St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Wales about AD 385. His given name was Maewyn, and he almost didn't get the job of bishop of Ireland because he lacked the required scholarship.
Far from being a saint, until he was 16, he considered himself a pagan. At that age, he was sold into slavery by a group of Irish marauders that raided his village. During his captivity, he became closer to God.
He escaped from slavery after six years and went to Gaul where he studied in the monastery under St. Germain, bishop of Auxerre for a period of twelve years. During his training he became aware that his calling was to convert the pagans to Christianity.
His wishes were to return to Ireland, to convert the native pagans to Christianity. But his superiors instead appointed St. Palladius. But two years later, Palladius transferred to Scotland. Patrick, having adopted that Christian name earlier, was then appointed as second bishop to Ireland.
Patrick was quite successful at winning converts. And this fact upset the Celtic Druids. Patrick was arrested several times, but escaped each time. He traveled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country. He also set up schools and churches which would aid him in his conversion of the Irish country to Christianity.
His mission in Ireland lasted for thirty years. After that time, Patrick retired to County Down. He died on March 17 in AD 461. That day has been commemorated as St. Patrick's Day ever since.
Much Irish folklore surrounds St. Patrick's Day. Not much of it is actually substantiated.
Some of this lore includes the belief that Patrick raised people from the dead. He also is said to have given a sermon from a hilltop that drove all the snakes from Ireland. Of course, no snakes were ever native to Ireland, and some people think this is a metaphor for the conversion
of the pagans. Though originally a Catholic holy day, St. Patrick's Day has evolved into more of a secular holiday.
One traditional icon of the day is the shamrock. And this stems from a more bona fide Irish tale that tells how Patrick used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the Trinity. He used it in his sermons to
represent how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit could all exist as separate elements of the same entity. His followers adopted the custom of wearing a shamrock on his feast day.
The St. Patrick's Day custom came to America in 1737. That was the first year St. Patrick's Day was publicly celebrated in this country, in Boston.
Today, people celebrate the day with parades and wearing of the green. One reason St. Patrick's Day might have become so popular is that it takes place just a few days before the first day of spring. One might say it has become the first green of spring.
- 1 (9 ounce) package butter mints, finely crushed
- 2 cups chocolate malt mix
- 1/2 cup instant chocolate drink mix
- 2 cups powdered coffee creamer
PREPARATION:In a jar with a screw-top lid, combine all ingredients and shake well to blend. To make Irish Mint Coffee: Place 1-2 tablespoons of creamer in a mug and fill with 6 ounces of coffee.
Glazed Irish Tea Cake
3/4 cup butter- room temperature
1 cup Sugar
2 t. pure Vanilla extract
2 large Eggs
3 ounce Cream cheese- room temperature
1-3/4 C. Cake flour
1-1/4 t. Baking powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1 cup Dried currants (or dates)
2/3 cup Buttermilk
1/2 cup Confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 t. Fresh lemon juice
PREHEAT OVEN TO 325F, with rack in center of oven. Generously grease a 9-inch (7-cup capacity) loaf pan. Dust with flour; tap pan over sink to discard excess flour. Cut piece of parchment paper or waxed paper to fit bottom of pan. Set aside. FOR CAKE, use mixer to cream butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating each until fluffy. Add cream cheese. Mix until well combined. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Put currants (or dates) in small bowl. Add 1/4 cup of flour mixture to currant and stir until well coated. Add remaining flour to batter, alternating with buttermilk. Mix until smooth. Use wooden spoon to stir in currants and all of the flour. Stir until well combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Smooth surface with spatula. Bake until well-browned and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour, 25 minutes (time will vary with individual ovens). Cake will crack on top. Let cake rest in pan for 10 minutes. Use flexible metal spatula to separate cake from sides of pan. Carefully remove cake from pan to cooling rack. Spread glaze on warm cake. Let cake cool completely. Cake can be stored 3 days at room temperature in foil. Cake can also be frozen up to 3 months, wrapped airtight.
FOR GLAZE, combine sugar and lemon juice in small bowl. Stir until smooth.
IRISH SPICE BREAD
- 1-1/2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons candied orange peel
- 1/2 cup raisins, golden or plain
- 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
- 6 ounces (3/4 cup) light corn syrup
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup milk, room temperature