The man behind the green beer and myth.

The man behind the green beer and myth.

The man behind the green beer and myth.

Previously published Slate articles made new.
March 16 2006 12:49 PM

St. Patrick Revealed

The man behind the green beer and myth.

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This Friday, revelers will drink green beer (and eat corned beef) in celebration of the Irishman who, according to David Plotz, "didn't rid the land of snakes, didn't compare the Trinity to the shamrock, and wasn't even Irish." In 2000, Plotz stripped the myth away from St. Patrick, evaluating the many different popular incarnations that have arisen in the 1,621 years since his birth. "The Irish have celebrated their patron saint with a quiet religious holiday for centuries, perhaps more than 1,000 years. It took the United States to turn St. Patrick's Day into a boozy spectacle. Irish immigrants first celebrated it in Boston in 1737 and first paraded in New York in 1762. By the late 19th century, the St. Patrick's Day parade had become a way for Irish-Americans to flaunt their numerical and political might. It retains this role today."