A Leprechaun’s Night Out

by karen on March 15, 2019

It’s been a bit hectic around here lately. In thinking of the topic to blog this week, I’m in need of some levity and I hope you will join me in a few chuckles as we take a look at the upcoming celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day.


Leave it to Americans to take a religious deity, the patron saint of Ireland—who is credited with converting the Irish to Christianity—and use him as an excuse for drunkenness and debauchery. March 17th, better known as Saint Patty’s (or Paddy’s) Day, is actually the death date of St. Patrick, originally commemorated as a traditional day for spiritual renewal. The first celebration of St. Patrick’s Day as we know it actually took place in Boston—yes, the United States—in 1737 among a group of Irish immigrants.

Shamrocks came to be a symbol of St. Patrick’s Day not as the emblem of Lucky Charms and bobble headbands, but a symbol of the trinity; the Christian unity of Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, which St. Patrick used when spreading Christianity.

There does not seem to be a clear connection to St. Patrick and the tradition of wearing green, nor why we can be pinched if we don’t have the color visibly displayed on his day. It’s likely we wear green as it is the color symbolizing all things Irish, and we risk being pinched because there are leprechauns lurking.

Leprechauns have likely been inserted into the theme of the day as they’re one of the best known symbols of Ireland, but simply have nothing to do with St. Patrick. Imagine the Saint’s awe at being memorialized with the likes of short, mischievous fairy-folk, secretly guarding their pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. In fact, it’s rather contradictory to associate a Catholic saint and a pagan symbol like a leprechaun; but, as we’ve said, the day isn’t exactly about Ireland or the Saint.

Clover, Shamrocks, Irish, Day, Luck, Green, Ireland

And, perhaps you already know that St. Patrick’s Day falls during Lent, but have no fear: churches long ago lifted the restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol during the 40-weekday period of fasting, abstinence, and penitence in order to properly celebrate the day. Thank goodness rules can be given exception in order to properly pursue a raucous time.

So, as you raise a pint in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, you might give pause to the man given credit for Irish Christianity, then feel free to move on to celebrating little men in green suits sporting bowler hats and bow ties; and when you find one, hold tight as your three most precious wishes are granted.

A Day in the Life

Imagine being a leprechaun and trying to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. You’re an elusive, secretive little guy who just wants a glass of green Guinness and to be left alone. But you stand out horribly as you wait in line at the bar, conflicted with the need to pinch bystanders not sporting green and the necessity of not being caught—lest your pot of gold be stolen and you be made to grant wishes to the thieves of your lot.

St Patrick's Day, Irish, Gold, St Patrick

Once you’ve acquired your beer, you’ll need to be careful yet, both of the calories and the effect of alcohol on your little body. Best to pair it with corned beef and cabbage to ensure a clear head for the safe passage home. (By the way, corned beef and cabbage is the meal of the day because it was a cheap form of meat and readily available vegetables that all could afford to celebrate their religious holiday with, but it is not a common Irish meal).

The calorie impact

Being the practical leprechaun that you are, you’ll want to be prudent with portions of both food and spirit. But that proves difficult and you get caught up in the revelry and overindulge a bit. Thank goodness Guinness is a lower calorie beer, owing to its lower alcohol content of just 4.2%. At 125 calories per 12 ounces, your two pints rack up 333 calories. Tack on 8 ounces of corned beef, a handsome portion of potatoes, a goodly slice of cabbage and a few pieces of carrot, and you’ve amassed a lofty 892 calories.

Before leaving, you can’t help but have a “Car Bomb” for dessert, that delectable concoction of ¾ pint of Guinness with a shot of whisky and Bailey’s sunk in it, quickly downed. While no one in Ireland would appreciate what we’ve dubbed this drink (car bombs are strictly acts of terror, reminiscent of the nearly 40-year Northern Ireland conflict), at a meager 272 calories, somewhat low if comparing to other desserts, your evening totals 1497 calories. Because you’re less than four feet tall and a mere 50 pounds, you’ve now ingested and imbibed in three day’s worth of calories.

No worries. St. Patrick’s Day is only one day a year and you can burn those calories off on your run home. Thank goodness you’re a quick little guy, you’ll only need to run for four hours. And that will put you in good training for Easter, just around the corner.


Karen Fisher, MS, RD, LDN, CDE is a dietitian in Reno, Nevada, happily promoting the benefits of healthy foods at her nutrition consulting firm, Nutrition Connection. Find her website at www.NutritionConnectionNV.com

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