The luck of the Irish. March 17, 2010Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: Leprechauns, luck of the Irish, shamrocks, St. Patrick's Day, St. Patrick's Day customs, St. Patrick's Day quiz
Poor Richard’s Almanac continues its weeklong series of “lucky posts” with a post in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.
It’s me, Richard Saunders of Poor Richard’s Almanac fame, back today with a quiz to test your knowledge of St. Patrick’s Day, Leprechauns, shamrocks, lucky charms, pots of gold, and more. See how much you really know about the luck of the Irish! As always, I’ll give the answers at the end. But no cheating, now!
1. Why would St. Patrick be associated with good luck, anyway?
a. He escaped from slavery and went on to become Primate of Ireland. (This means religious leader, not great ape, FYI.)
b. He drove the snakes out of Ireland.
c. He brought Christianity to Ireland.
d. He became Ireland’s Patron Saint.
2. What are Leprechauns?
a. Little gnomelike men with pots of gold.
b. Little men who wear red.
c. Shoemakers to the elves.
d. Little men who wear green and receive kickbacks from appearing on cereal boxes.
3. Why do people wear green on St. Patrick’s Day?
a. Green is the color of the Emerald Isle.
b. Green is the color of lucky shamrocks.
c. If you wear green, the Leprechauns can’t see you; if they can see you, they’ll pinch you.
d. Green will bring prosperity since it’s the color of money.
4. What’s the significance of the shamrock?
a. The three leaflets in one leaf are symbolic of the Holy Trinity.
b. The shamrock’s green color is symbolic of Ireland.
c. Every so often, the shamrock produces the lucky four-leaf clover.
d. The word “shamrock” means “little clover” in Gaelic and is believed to refer to the white clover, Trifolium repens, which was held in high esteem by the Druids as a plant to ward off evil.
5. Why do people eat corned beef, cabbage, and Irish soda bread to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
a. These are considered lucky foods: Corned beef because it’s rich and fatty, symbolizing abundance; cabbage because it resembles cash, symbolizing wealth (similarly, the sliced carrots often cooked with the corned beef symbolize coins); Irish soda bread because its round shape symbolizes eternity.
b. Foods like long-keeping cabbage, flour and currants, and corned beef kept well and were still good at the end of winter.
c. The peppercorns that give corned beef its name were considered the king of spices, since they both added flavor and kept food from spoiling long before canning and freezing were possible.
d. St. Patrick proclaimed corned beef and cabbage the national dish of Ireland and outlawed potatoes.
6. What do the Irish drink on St. Patrick’s Day?
a. green beer
b. Bailey’s Irish Cream
c. Irish whiskey
d. Black and Tan
7. What is “the luck of the Irish”?
a. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
b. An ironic reference to the long spate of bad luck suffered by the Irish, beginning with English conquest and continuing through the Potato Famine.
c. The recent upsurge of prosperity in Ireland caused by technological advances.
d. The good luck brought to Irish people through the use of lucky charms like shamrocks.
8. What do the Irish consider their own luckiest charm?
a. the shamrock
b. the Blarney Stone
c. the Claddagh
d. the Celtic knot
And now, the answers:
1. Though all these answers have validity, we suspect that it’s the snake connection that links St. Patrick to good luck. Even though this is just a legend, the mere thought of averting disaster by ridding the land of poisonous snakes sounds like good luck incarnate to us.
2. Believe it or not, the answers are a) through c) (Leprechauns originally wore red), though the best answer is that they were shoemakers to the elves. The pot of gold legend apparently arose because the thrify Leprechauns saved all the gold the elves paid them for the shoes in pots, and if you could catch a Leprechaun, his pot of gold was yours.
3. We’d have thought that the answer was a), but it’s actually c). Apparently Leprechauns have a penchant for pinching on St. Patrick’s Day.
4. This time, the answer is “all of the above,” though the connection with the Trinity dates back to St. Patrick himself and is thus probably the most significant.
5. Answers a) through c) are true, but a) is the reason these dishes have gained popularity as lucky foods. Potatoes, a New World crop, were unknown in St. Patrick’s day.
6. The Irish drink Black and Tan, not green beer, on St. Patrick’s Day. Made from a combination of dark stout or porter (such as Guinness) and pale ale or lager (such as Bass or Harp), the Black and Tan divides in the glass into gold and brown layers. In America, you can buy Black and Tan premixed from breweries such as Yuengling’s.
7. Unfortunately, the traditional answer is b). However, with the recent upsurge in prosperity in Ireland thanks to the computer industry, the internet, and technology in general, at this point the literal meaning rather than the ironic one would be more correct. Erin go bragh!
8. Yikes, all of these have valid claims on Irish luck, hearts, and history. But we’re still going for the shamrock as the ultimate symbol of Irish luck.
So, how’d you do? All of us here at Poor Richard’s Almanac wish you a very lucky St. Paddy’s Day. Stay tuned for a post from Silence Dogood on lucky (and unlucky) foods tomorrow, as our week of “lucky posts” continues!