Today is March 17

Published 7:30 am Wednesday, March 17, 2021

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St. Patrick’s Day

For many years, one of the prevailing stories about St. Patrick involved the patron saint of Ireland driving snakes out of the Emerald Isle. Today, visitors to Ireland likely won’t see a snake while traversing the country’s rolling green hills or idyllic countryside. However, that absence of snakes has little to do with St. Patrick and more to do with geography. According to, water has surrounded Ireland since the end of the last glacial period. That water has kept snakes out of the country. And prior to that most recent glacial period, Ireland was covered in ice, making the country uninhabitable for cold-blooded creatures, including snakes. The story of St. Patrick banishing Ireland’s snakes into the surrounding seas is likely an allegory that highlights his role in bringing Christianity to Ireland. In that version of events, the “snakes” are actually the pagan ideology that natives to Ireland had embraced for centuries.


Many St. Patrick’s Day traditions are not from Ireland

St. Patrick’s Day is made special by various traditions. Everything from dyeing major cities’ rivers green to parades to enjoying green foods has become part of the pageantry of St. Patrick’s Day.

The next time you raise a green beer to your lips, you may wonder which traditions are authentically Irish and which ones were created by regions with an abundance of Irish emigrants. Surprisingly, many seemingly Irish traditions likely began elsewhere.

First parade

It would be accurate to assume that various elements associated with St. Patrick’s Day began where St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, once resided, including the first St. Patrick’s Day parade. However, some of the first parades held in St. Patrick’s honor took place in two North American cities, New York and Boston, that had high numbers of Irish immigrants. But historians say the first ever St. Patrick’s Day parade was actually held in St. Augustine, Florida in 1601, a year after gunfire blasts were used to honor the saint. The parade may have been at the request of an Irish priest living there at the time.

Corned beef and cabbage

What would St. Patrick’s Day be without an authentic meal of corned beef and cabbage? This dish is not so authentic after all, and actually is an American innovation. Ham and cabbage was widely eaten in Ireland, but corned beef was a cheaper alternative found in America by immigrants. Therefore, corned beef became a staple of poor Irish immigrants living in lower Manhattan. The salted meat was boiled three times to remove some of the brine and make it palatable.

Green beer

Green beer is not an Irish custom, but an American one. The most common beer consumed in Ireland is Guinness, which is dark brown to black in color, making green dye useless in Irish pubs since it would be largely invisible in the stout.

Golf tournaments

One would not associate golf with St. Patrick’s Day unless they reside in Nome, Alaska. Golf is a popular Irish pastime, and each year the Bering Sea Ice Classic Golf Tournament takes place right around St. Patrick’s Day. Bright green golf balls are used, and breaks are factored in between holes to warm up at local bars.

Wearing green

According to The Christian Science Monitor, individuals in the United States started wearing green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the early 1700s. They believed it “made one invisible to leprechauns.” The official color for the holiday used to be a sky blue known as “St. Patrick’s Day Blue,” established during the reign of King George III.

In addition to these traditions, specialty items, such as coffees and shakes, also are very popular. However, most of these do not have origins on the Emerald Isle, either. Yet, no matter where traditions began, there’s no denying St. Patrick’s Day has long inspired celebration


Kick Butts Day

Smoking is a deadly habit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. Smoking also cause more deaths each year than alcohol use, illegal drug use, human immunodeficiency virus, motor vehicle injuries, and firearm-related incidents combined. Statistics Canada indicates that around 100 Canadians die of smoking-related illnesses each day.

Despite the knowledge that both cigarette smoking and products such as pipes, cigars, e-cigarettes, and vaping pens have serious health risks, many people feel powerless to quit. Quitting smoking can reduce the risk for heart and lung diseases, reduce the chances for low birth weight babies and sudden infant death syndrome and improve one’s life expectancy.

Each time a person resists a tobacco craving, he or she is one step closer to quitting smoking. Around 90 percent of those who try to quit do so without any help from aids, according to WebMD. But going cold turkey may not be the best path to success, as only around 5 to 7 percent of people who try this route maintain the momentum. However, research published in 2010 in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, which compared abrupt quitting to methods designed to gradually quite, found that neither method was necessarily more successful than the other. Individuals who are attempting to quit may need to go through some trial and error before ultimately finding the cessation method that works for them.

Involving others in your efforts might be a smart approach. Doing so creates a sense of accountability and ensures a support network is always there.

Changes in behavior and thinking also can be necessary. The Mayo Clinic suggests avoiding triggers that have previously stimulated a desire to smoke. Some common triggers include being at parties or bars, stressful situations, post-meal smoking sessions, or commutes. Changing routines can help break the habit of smoking.

Replacement products, whether they contain nicotine or not, can give the mouth something to do and stave off cravings. Many people find chewing gum, sucking on a straw or munching on carrots helps. A variety of nicotine replacement products also may help people quit.

Staying busy and distracting the mind can keep a person away from cigarettes. Enrolling in fitness classes, starting a club or engaging in a hobby or craft can divert attention away from smoking – especially if these activities are not part of one’s normal routine.

People who want to quit smoking can be successful, even if they experience a little trial and error on their way to kicking tobacco for good


Submarine Day

 This unofficial holiday celebrates the technological advances that make the use of the watercraft possible.

Better Choice Roasted Veggie Submarine Sandwich

Fresh mushrooms, zucchini and peppers are roasted until crisp-tender and sandwiched between slices of crusty French bread to make this hot sub.

Makes 6 Servings

1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, quartered

2 zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

2 red peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 onion, cut into 1-inch chunks

1/4 cup KRAFT Lite Zesty Italian Dressing

1 French bread baguette (1 lb.), cut lengthwise in half

1/3 cup KRAFT Light Mayo Reduced Fat Mayonnaise

6 KRAFT 2% Milk Singles


Heat oven to 450ºF.

Toss vegetables with Italian dressing; spread onto rimmed baking sheet. Bake 25 min. or until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring after 15 min.

Meanwhile, hollow out bread halves, leaving 1-inch-thick shells. Spread inside of bottom bread shell with mayo.

Spoon vegetables into bottom half of bread; cover with 2% Milk Singles and top of bread. Cut into 6 pieces.

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