Today is St. Patrick’s Day – celebrated by folks of Irish descent around the world. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland where he ministered in the fifth century. March 17th marks the day St. Patrick died
Legend credits Patrick with bringing Christianity to Ireland, and for banishing snakes – although there are no traces of snakes ever living on the island.
Patrick also gets credit for popularizing the shamrock – he used the three-leafed clover to teach the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity.
There is a fish angle to the story: St. Patrick’s Day falls smack in the middle of Lent, a time of strict fasting and restraint for Christians in Ireland and around the world.
But the old bans on boozing or eating meat don’t apply on St. Paddy’s Day. In fact, since the 11th century, meat has been eaten during Lent in honor of the patron saint. It’s called “St. Patrick’s Fish” – but it’s really roast pork.
The ritual stems from a legend that says Patrick had tucked away a piece of pork during Lent in case he couldn’t resist the temptation, but he was soon filled with remorse. An angel appeared, telling him to throw the roast pork into the river, where – you guessed it – the meat was transformed into fish!
On March 17th, stories say the sun didn’t set that day, and it shone for 12 days and nights. It is also said that every year on the day of his death, fish rise from the sea and pass by Saint Patrick’s altar.
Seventeen centuries later, St. Patrick’s Fish is still eaten in Ireland on this day.