In the thousand page-long canon of “Mistakes Made on St. Patrick’s Day,” you’ll find stuff like “texted Chad,” “got ironic back tattoo of Trump giving thumbs up,” “texted Chad to apologize for texting Chad,” “joined a rap battle only to realize it was a group of women breastfeeding at a Mommy and Me class,” and finally “called Chad because he wasn’t answering my texts and left a 5-minute message detailing all the filthy words that rhyme with Chad.”
Just like Valentine’s Day became a recipe for love-bummers, St. Patrick’s Day has become a crucible for mistake making. And we don’t just mean that seventh shot. We mean at the foundations of the holiday itself, the green and Guinness and many St. Patrick misunderstandings.
In the spirit of betterment, and well before the blurriness of Thursday, here’s a list of common St. Patrick’s Day fails that you can correct this year. And then text Chad because he’d be proud of you. (Don’t text Chad, he’s a jerk.)
St. Patrick was not an Irish dude who chased snakes out of Ireland.
History isn’t gonna be a big topic of discussion among most revelers, but in case it comes up, St. Patrick was born in England, Scotland, or Wales (it was 390 A.D., so records are a bit fuzzy). He was kidnapped by raiders and taken to Ireland where he spent six years as a slave. He returned to England briefly, then went back to Ireland. Called there, he said, not to defeat snakes but convert pagans to Christianity.
Speaking of, there are also no snakes in Ireland.
Like history, native fauna probably won’t be a big topic at bars on Thursday. But again, in case it comes up because we’re all trying to pad a drinking holiday with factoids—you can remind everyone there were not, and have never been, snakes in Ireland. Seriously, how could a land that birthed Bono have snakes?
St. Patricks’ Day is not traditionally an Irish holiday.
We’ll give you half-credit for this one. St. Patrick had previously been celebrated as a minor religious holiday—a saint’s day—in Ireland. But it began with Irish immigrants and their descendants, who found cultural solidarity—and political force—in celebration of the feast. And then, well, we all got together and turned it into the green beast it is today.
You shouldn’t wish people “Happy St. Patty’s Day!”
Patty is a nickname for Patricia, not Patrick. Paddy is the diminutive of Patrick, from the spelling Pádraig. (And this is from a website called PaddynotPatty.com. Someone went through the trouble to build that. They must be a bit serious.)
You also shouldn’t wish people “Happy St. Paddy’s Day!”
This one’s a bit fuzzy, because the term “paddy” has some history as a 19th Century Irish slur (think “Paddy Wagon,” and what that implies…). Also saying “Happy St. Paddy’s” is kind of like saying “Happy birthday, J.C.!” on Christmas. It’s a bit familiar. Which, depending entirely on the company, may ruffle feathers and/or lose you the next round.
Green isn’t the color of St. Patrick.
Green, green everywhere. So much green. So very many iterations of green. Sexy green. Morphsuit green. Weirdly overly-serious green. Except the color of the Most Illustrious Order of St. Patrick—a now defunct Irish order of chivalry—was blue. And paintings depicting the Saint often showed him in blue vestments. (And no wiggly shamrock antennae.) To be fair, the more common explanation of the green is the shamrock, which St. Patrick supposedly used to explain the Holy Trinity. So, OK. Green it up.
Stop ordering Irish Car Bombs.
Not only are they not very tasty, they are also super offensive to actual Irish people. So yeah, maybe don’t order them. Especially if you’re in an Irish pub. But also anywhere.
St. Patrick’s day isn’t about drinking yourself stupid.
Up until 1970, St. Patrick’s Day was a dry holiday. A religious and cultural observance that somehow did not involve bar crawls or green top hats.
St. Patrick’s Day isn’t a celebration of the birthday of St. Patrick.
March 17th, 461 A.D. is actually the day of his death, which theoretically would call for some more solemn form of remembrance. But then, life is short. Enjoy the holiday. (Responsibly.)