St. Patrick Day: Fun Facts and Myths
On March 17th , everyone knows they should wear green. But did you know that in ancient Ireland, green was not the color associated with St. Patrick?
It was actually blue. In fact, a color deemed St. Patrick's blue can even be found on some ancient Irish flags. No one can deny though, that green is definitely the color of this festive holiday. Every year, people don their green sparkly derbies, wave their green shamrocks, and even guzzle green beer on St. Patrick's Day.
And though we usually think of Irish settlements in New York, Savannah, or other coastal towns, actually many Irish immigrants settled right here in the North Georgia Mountains. In fact, historians usually refer to this group of Irish settlers as Scotch-Irish. Though that name seems to indicate a blend of Scotch and Irish ancestry, this group was actually just Irish protest immigrants who settled in America in the 1700s. Because they found the coastal towns too crowded, the Scotch-Irish (mostly Presbyterians) moved further inland to the mountains, including the mountains of North Georgia and Western North Carolina.
Of course, today this region isn't exactly known for Irish Presbyterians. So what happened?
Well, like all other groups of immigrants, the Scotch-Irish had to change because they encountered several problems in their new land. One of their biggest problems was the lack of college-educated clergy in the mountains where they had settled. In fact, to send a Scotch-Irish minister to college would have taken a great deal of time and money. Not only would someone have to pay the pricey tuition, but one would also have to travel several days to even reach the nearest college.
To meet the demand for clergy in their churches, many Scotch-Irish settlers invited less educated Baptist and Methodist ministers to lead their congregations. Thus, most modern Scotch-Irish descendants now identify themselves as Baptists or Methodists, the two dominant religions in the rural South.
So this St. Patrick's Day, if a freckled-faced Baptist with a southern drawl pulls you close and proclaims, "Kiss me. I'm Irish," then you can probably take him at his word!