St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow, so let’s settle the
age-old recent debate: is it Paddy or Patty?
TL;DR: it’s Paddy.
If you want an explanation that goes beyond “Because the Irish say so,” keep reading!
A History Lesson
March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day, which is written as Lá Fhéile Pádraig (The Day of the Festival of Patrick) in Irish. Yes, Irish is a language and, yes, people still speak it. It’s also called Gaelic or Irish Gaelic.
Saint Patrick was a bishop and missionary who lived and worked in Ireland in the 5th Century CE. He was captured by pirates as a young man and held captive in Ireland. After he escaped, he returned to Ireland as a bishop.
At this time, and until the 1800s (that’s 1200 years, in case you didn’t want to math), native Irish spoke, y’know, Irish. And in Irish, the name Patrick is written and pronounced Pàdraig.
Yes, Patty would technically be the shortened version of Patrick as spelled in English. But Patty is more commonly used to shorten Patricia, which was definitely not his name. And we’re not celebrating him because of the English. The Irish have been celebrating Lá Fhéile Pádraig since about 900 CE — at which point, you’ll remember, they were still speaking Irish.
St. Patrick’s Day as we celebrate it today is only partly about the Catholic saint or about Christianity. It’s a celebration of Ireland and Irish culture — and it’s one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world because of the Irish diaspora.
It’s an Irish holiday, so the Irish get to make the rules. And the Irish say it’s Paddy.
2 More Thoughts on the Subject of St. Paddy’s Day…
1) Knock it off with the whole “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” thing. First of all, that’s a comma splice. Gross. Second, if you’re only wearing this t-shirt to a bar on St. Patrick’s, you’re confusing “Irish” with “drunk,” which is a stereotype and is also icky, consent-wise.
(But if you want to go and kiss the Blarney Stone, which is how the saying originated, please take me with you!)
2) And stop calling it an “Irish Car Bomb.” The Troubles were a horrifying time and car bombs aren’t funny. Regardless of whether you think the island of Ireland should be a whole, free republic or not, blowing up cars is Not Great™ and not a clever drink name. Also, this cocktail isn’t even an Irish invention; it just happens to use Irish drinks.
Call it an Irish Bomb Shot because that’s the kind of cocktail it actually is.
The Huffington Post has a great article about this if you want to read more about it.
That’s about all there is to it! Have a happy — and safe — St. Paddy’s Day!