Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday is the last Tuesday before Lent, and comes right before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is French and is translated to ‘Fat Tuesday‘. Originally during Lent Christians abstained from eating meat (this practice has been adapted and now only applies to Fridays in Lent). Chefs and restaurateurs would fry up enormous quantities of bacon to have enough ‘fat‘ or frying grease to carry them through the 40 days of Lent. As lent was a time of reflection and sacrifice, this was the last opportunity people had for parties and enjoyment for forty days, so many cities with large Christian populations held elaborate carnivals or street fairs. They often included parades, costumes and ornate and elaborate ceremonies. The parties grew in size and length and were generally celebrated for seven days. This holiday is still celebrated today, with the largest street carnivals occurring in Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans.Photo by Caitlinator
From its beginnings as a religious feast day, St. Patrick’s Day has become a celebration of all things Irish. The holiday commemorating Saint Patrick officially happens on March 17, but St. Patrick’s Day Parades and St. Patrick’s Day Parties often happen on a weekend near the official date.
St. Patrick’s Day History
The real Saint Patrick wasn’t born in Ireland, but in Roman Britain in the late fourth century. Captured at the age of sixteen and held as a slave in Ireland for over a decade, Patrick escaped to Gaul and became a priest. Despite his years of servitude, he’d developed an abiding love for the people of Ireland and returned there to bring Christianity to the Emerald Isle.
Shamrocks are the symbol most associated with St. Patrick because he used the plant’s three leaves to illustrate the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity. Although four leaf clovers are considered lucky, they aren’t the same as St. Patrick’s shamrock. Authentic or not, four-leaf clover decorations look just as festive.
Despite its celebratory atmosphere, this holiday became known beyond Ireland’s shores for a grim reason. The Great Famine that struck Ireland in the middle of the nineteenth century sent hungry emigrants fleeing Ireland. As tragic as the famine was, the world is richer today thanks to the spread of Irish culture.
St. Patrick’s Day Parades
One of the most popular ways to celebrate the saint is with a parade. Floats decked in green, white, and orange bear riders dressed as leprechauns or wearing St. Patrick’s Day costumes featuring the ubiquitous shamrocks. At some parades, riders hand out cabbages and potatoes to the crowd; these favorite Irish ingredients are later cooked up and served as a St. Patrick’s Day dinner of Irish stew. At other parades, it’s tradition to exchange a kiss for a St. Patrick’s Day gift of a paper flower or strand of plastic beads.
Cities with large Irish populations generally host the largest parades. Boston, Chicago, and New York City host extravagant parades, while New Orleans and Savannah feature many smaller parades to celebrate the holiday.
St. Patrick’s Day Parties
For those who prefer a more private celebration, parties are also common on St. Patrick’s Day. Irish music and a menu of Irish dishes help set the tone, but a proper St. Patrick’s Day party isn’t complete without a selection of Irish beers. Other traditional drinks include Irish whiskey, Irish coffee, or commonplace cocktails with a splash of green coloring.
Beer and whiskey work for adults’ parties, but the holiday is a favorite of children, too. Favorite non-alcoholic drinks include limeade and punch served with green-tinted cherries. St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes topped with green icing will make both children and sweet-toothed adults happy.
Party games like bending backward to discover how to kiss the Blarney Stone or trying out a few steps of Irish dancing go over well with kids old enough to appreciate Irish history. Younger children can enjoy a taste of Irish culture with St. Patrick’s Day-themed versions of musical chairs or a “pot of gold” coin toss.
Whether celebrating with the whole community or at a small party, everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.
What could be more delightful than a festive St. Patrick’s Day cupcake? Cupcakes are fun and easy to make for any holiday, and St. Patrick’s Day is no exception. Even though St. Patrick’s Day was once celebrated by only the Irish, St. Patrick’s Day has now become a holiday for people of all nationalities. Cupcakes are fun to look at and even more fun to eat. So whether it’s for a St. Patrick’s Day Party or a casual family meal, these cupcakes will brighten any affair.
St. Patricks Day Vanilla Cupcake Recipes
St. Patrick’s Day Chocolate Cupcake Recipes
- Bailey’s Irish Cream Cupcakes
- Beer Cupcakes
- Chocolate-Mint Shamrock Cupcakes
- Chocolate Stout and Irish Cream Liqueur CupcakesChocolate Spice CupcakesChocolate Friands (aka Cupcakes)
- Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting
- Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes
- Junior Mints Cupcakes
- Mouthwatering Guinness and Bailey Irish Cupcakes
St. Patrick’s Day Cupcake Recipes
- Best-Ever Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Cappuccino Cupcakes
- Pot-o-Gold Cupcakes
- Rainbow Cupcakes
- Red Bull & Pop Rock Cupcakes
- Red Velvet Revisited (Shamrock-Studded Cupcakes)
- Shamrock Cupcakes
- Shamrock Mint Cupcakes
- St. Patrick’s Day Button Cupcakes
- St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes 1
- St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes 1
- St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes 3
- St. Patrick’s Day Pistachio Cupcakes
Regardless of whether or not you are Irish or not, Irish pubs and bars have been popular for generations. The following are a list of 10 different Irish bars and pubs located throughout the U.S. that are well known for their Irish food, drink, Irish music, and camaraderie.
McSorley’s Old Ale House
Established in the year 1854, McSorley’s Old Ale House is the oldest of New York City’s bars and saloons. Noted patrons from John Lennon to Abe Lincoln have had pint and spent time in McSorley’s Ale House. The walls of this famous establishment are covered with historic information and the floors are strewn with sawdust to give them an authentic and unmistakable appearance.
Known as being the “Home of the Perfect Pint”, the Snug in Boston offers an extensive menu along with wonderful entertainment. Ellen and Ed, the owners of The Snug, are always awaiting the arrival of visitors. The Snug is perhaps most well-known for its European draft system which is state-of-the-art.
Grafton Pub & Grill
The Grafton Pub & Grill in Chicago, which is named after a renowned street located in Dublin, is well known for its hospitality, and for its selection of over 70 beers, and a collection of Scottish and Irish whiskies. Along with beer and whisky, the Grafton Pub & Grill boasts wonderful American and Irish comfort foods and live music Sunday through Wednesday.
Buskers is a Irish Bar and Restaurant which is family owned and located in Newport, Rhode Island. After its renovations in 2003, this quaint location became the cozy niche which is enjoyed by visitors today. It has a great selection of food and beverages, a genuine Irish atmosphere complete with pictures, artifacts, and antiques.
Anna Liffey’s is an Irish Bar located in New Haven Connecticut, which has received the Head Brew Master’s “Perfect Pint Award”. Each Sunday, visitors can enjoy live Irish music, Tuesday night for Trivia night and each Saturday to enjoy local bands.
Kells in Portland has become well-known as the as the U.S.’s #1 Irish Restaurant and bar and has served its many visitors for 25 years. People who come into Kells Portland are met with wonderful food, unparalled service, live Irish music 7 days a week, and a welcoming atmosphere.
McGillin’s Olde Ale House
McGillin’s Olde Ale House in Philadelphia, was opened the year that Lincoln was elected as president, soon after the Liberty Bell was cracked and before the breaking of the ground for the construction of Philadelphia City Hall. Established in 1860, this Ale House is the oldest tavern still operating in Philadelphia.
Kevin Barry’s Pub, which is situated in Savannah, Georgia, is located on the Savannah River in one of the city’s oldest buildings. They also offers delicious food, a wide selection of beers and alcohol, as well as live Irish music. Kevin Barr’s which is opened in 1980, is a well-known spot for military personnel, and is known across the world as a wonderful Irish spot.
Fado Irish Pub
The word Fadó, which is translated as “long ago”, is a perfect name for this bar that is steeped in culture and a genuine atmosphere. Fado Irish Pub in Washington DC, is the perfect location for family outings, office lunches, and fun nights full of food, drink, and music.
The Kerry Irish Pub
The Kerry Irish Pub in New Orleans, was established in 1993, was initially a haven for those who enjoyed live Irish music but quickly became a location for people who wish to enjoy all types of music including rock, folk, country, Irish, roots rock, bluegrass, and other types of soul music. The venue is always available to local as well as visiting musicians.
There are numerous Irish bars and pubs scattered throughout the country, many of which are very enjoyable. However, if you find yourself living in or visiting an area close to these bars, they are a sure ticket to an enjoyable and wonderful time out.
Photo credit: Un ragazzo chiamato Bi
Daylight Savings Time typically rings a bell to everyone in the form of “Spring forward, Fall back.” This phrase is in reference to the seasons in which the time changes occur. Every year, the majority of Americans adjust their time zone to allow for more daylight in the evening hours. In the United States, clocks are set one hour forward on the second Sunday of March. When Fall comes, clocks are set back one hour on the first Sunday in November, returning back to Standard Time. [Read more…]
Face it, some people get off on making everyone else look stupid. Alright, maybe that’s a bit harsh, but suffice to say, they enjoy fooling people, getting their goat, yanking their chain. You get the idea. Hoaxes. Some are clever, others are just mean (and therefore probably more funny). These are a few of the most famous.
Cardiff, New York : Cardiff Giant
Atheists and ministers… the two don’t always get along. In the 1860’s an atheist tobacconist named George Hull got into an argument with a fundamentalist minister named Mr. Turk. Sparks flew and the main point of contention became Mr. Turk’s unfaltering belief that giants did indeed wander the Earth as stated in Genesis 6:4. Hull, being a jerk, and rich, and admittedly kind of funny, decided to have a fake petrified giant created. The ten foot high giant was carved out of gypsum then weathered with chemicals. Hull then had it buried on his cousin’s farm. A year later, the cousin hired two men to dig a well where Hull had buried the giant. The giant was, of course, discovered. A big brouhaha was made. People gathered. People paid money to see it. Hull’s cousin doubled the price. Scholars immediately could tell it was fake, while religious fundamentalists insisted it was real. Hull laughed himself silly and sold the giant for almost fifteen times what it cost him to make. P.T. Barnum wanted to lease it, was turned down, so had a replica made. Today both the giant and its replica still survive and are on display. Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Farmington Hills, Michigan claims to have the replica, while the original is housed at the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown, New York.
New York City : War of the Worlds
Imagine it, you’re a genius storyteller. You’ve adapted the work of another genius storyteller. Tonight’s the night you perform, and your performance is so convincing that your audience thinks it’s real. They’re panicking, they’re calling the police, they’re contemplating suicide. Who are you? You’re Orson Welles, and you’ve just convinced a whole lot of people that Martians have invaded New Jersey. Good times. Yep, on October 30th, 1938, Orson Wells and his “Mercury Theatre on the Air” performed a radio adaptation of H.G. Wells “War of the Worlds”. The gimmick? The performers didn’t introduce it. They just cut in with, “We interrupt this program” and went into a series of News Reports about a Martian Invasion that had just landed. The show also had no commercials, which made it all the more convincing. Alright, so maybe the people who thought it was real weren’t such dopes. This was Orson Welles they were dealing with. It’s likely he timed key points of show to occur when listeners were flipping through the dial, so they’d happen upon the show right as something gripping was happening under the guise of a news broadcast. Those who were fooled were of course outraged afterwards. CBS was apparently banned forever from using “We interrupt this program” for dramatic purposes. Welles, of course, immediately became one of the most famous storytellers in America and soon left for Hollywood.
Winchester, Hampshire, England & Various : Crop Circles
Most prevalent in England, the best part of the crop circle hoax is probably how much it tends to humiliate the so-called experts. For almost two decades, mysterious crop circles would appear throughout England and the rest of the world. The crops were not cut, they were bent. It was “impossible” apparently for humans to bend crops this way. This must be the work of supernatural forces. These people were, of course, complete morons. And this was proven in 1991 when two men from Southampton, England stepped forward and claimed they were the two who started the whole modern craze. They proceeded to show how they did it using hats, wire, rope, and a long plank of wood. Their reason for stepping forward? One of the two men was afraid his wife thought he was cheating on her. What, with the late hours and enormous mileage being put on his car, what else could she think he was doing? He couldn’t possibly be using tools a veritable caveman would have to create things experts thought had to have been made by UFO’s.
Cottingley, England : Cottingley Fairies
Oh my god, those are photographs of fairies! Sorry, but this hoax is especially laughable by today’s standards. Why today’s standards? What’s changed? That’s simple. Star Wars. Why Star Wars? Two words. Special effects. We’ve spent the last thirty years surrounded by them. We’re used to them. We can tell when they’re great, and we can tell when they stink. Now, go back 100 years. When motion picture film was first invented and a clip of a train arriving in a station was shown in a theater, people in the audience ran screaming in fear of being run-over. What am I getting at? No offense to those who came before us, but when it comes to movies and photography in general, we’re a much more sophisticated audience than they were. In 1917, cousins Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright took five photos of “real fairies”. The photos became public a couple of years later and a large number of people believed they were authentic. So why is this so laughable? Because by today’s standards the photos are blatantly fake. This hoax is a product of its era.
Piltdown, East Sussex, England : Piltdown Man
It’s 1912 and the missing link between man and apes has finally been found! Actually… it hadn’t… but it would take 40 years for anyone to widely figure that out. Over the course of several trips to a gravel pit in the small village of Piltdown, pieces of a skull and jaw were discovered. Once assembled, the skull itself resembled that of a modern man, the jaw looked like an ape’s. In 1923, a German Anatomist named Franz Weidenreich took a look at the remains and said, “Yeah… uh, guys? It’s a human skull… with an orangutan jaw. *cough*” You’d think someone would have paid attention, but nope. In 1938 a memorial was erected where the skull was found. This was an important discovery! In 1953 “The Times” published a report. The skull was a human skull from medieval times, the jaw was 500 years old and an orangutan’s with teeth from fossilized chimpanzees. The bones had been stained with chromic acid. The hoax is believed to have lasted for so long because it confirmed (incorrect) beliefs by scientists that human evolution from apes started with the brain. It was also a matter of national pride for the British. The forger has never been identified, but the man who discovered the bones, Charles Dawson, is the prime suspect.
We may be more sophisticated these days, but we’re still just as gullible. As we see every April 1st, people fall for hoaxes. In the 1980’s there was a huge uproar when it was announced in London that Big Ben would be converted to a digital clock. And as long as people fall for them… well, we’ll just keep having fun at their expense.