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March 2014

Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with your stomach!

Traditionally known as Lá Fhéile Pádraig, or “the Day of the Festival of Patrick,” Saint Patrick’s Day is a global holiday whose roots are now overshadowed in many countries by wearing green and consuming large quantities of liquor. Celebrated annually on March 17, the Feast of Saint Patrick honors Saint Patrick’s role in bringing Christianity to Ireland. Public parades are held, Irish culture is celebrated, and Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for a day.

Saint Patrick was a Roman Britain who, at sixteen years of age, was captured by Irish raiders and taken back to Ireland as a slave. In a dream, he was told by God to liberate himself and return to Britain. He returned in 432 and propagated the Christian religion, popularizing the now-iconic shamrock as a symbol for the Holy Trinity.

But enough with the history lesson. Let’s take a look at some delicious Irish dishes that you can prepare for your own Saint Patrick’s Day celebration.

Irish Soda Bread

Served with some decadent Irish butter, Irish soda bread is the perfect start to any meal. The traditional bread has a denser texture than other similar white breads, and you may find it a great staple in your meals throughout the rest of the year. The other benefit of soda bread is that it’s very quick to make, as baking soda is used as a leavening agent in place of yeast. Butter, egg, raisins and nuts are also added in variations of the recipe.

Recipe: Irish Soda Bread

Corned Beef

Corned beef, while having roots in Ireland, is actually more of an Irish-American dish served during Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations in the United States. The dish is a variant of the traditional bacon and cabbage. Beef is slowly simmered with kale or cabbage until it's full of flavor and velvety soft. You can now find corned beef as a popular food item in many countries around the world.

Recipe: Corned Beef with Parsley Sauce


Colcannon (derived from cál ceannann, or "white-headed cabbage") is a mashed potato dish made with kale or cabbage that's also popular during Halloween because of its association with the harvest. It's a symbol of good fortune, so why not prepare a plate of it for Saint Patrick's Day? Prizes are often hidden inside, delighting youngsters and youthful-minded adults alike.

Recipe: Colcannon Potatoes

Irish beer, hard cider and whiskey

Here are a few Irish exports you won’t have to make yourself. If you’re not a fan of stouts like Guinness or ales like Smithwick’s, you can opt for a sweet Irish hard cider like Magners, traditionally made with apples but also available in other varieties like pear. Of course, for the harder souls, a bit of Irish whiskey in an Irish coffee or a Hot Toddy might be the tonic for you.

What does your country eat during Saint Patrick’s Day? Let us know on our Facebook Page and be sure to “like” TELC English to stay updated on more fun cultural facts!