It’s St. Patrick’s Day – and fish is part of the myth!

Fish plays a big part in the St. Patrick's Day story.

by | March 17, 2022

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March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day – celebrated by folks of Irish descent around the world.

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland where he ministered in the fifth century. March 17th marks the day he died.

Legend credits Patrick with bringing Christianity to Ireland, and for banishing snakes – although there are no traces of snakes ever having lived on the island.

Patrick also gets credit for popularizing the shamrock – he used the three leafed clover to teach the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity.

There is a fish angle to the story –

St. Patrick’s Day falls smack in the middle of Lent, a time of strict fasting and restraint for Christians in Ireland and around the world. But the old bans on boozing or eating meat don’t apply on St. Paddy’s Day.

In fact, since the 11th century, meat has been eaten during Lent in honor of the patron saint. It’s called “St. Patrick’s Fish” – but it’s really roast pork.

The switch stems from a legend that says Patrick had tucked away a piece of pork during Lent in case he couldn’t resist the temptation, but he was soon filled with remorse.

An angel appeared, telling him to throw the roast pork into the river, where – you guessed it – the meat was transformed into a fish!

On March 17th, stories say the sun didn’t set and it shone for 12 days and nights. It’s also said that every year on the day of St. Patrick’s death, fish rise from the sea and pass by his altar.

Seventeen centuries later, St. Patrick’s Fish is still eaten in Ireland on this day.

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About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.


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