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Where Did St. Patrick’s Day’s Green Beer Come From?

A pint of green beer sits in front of a pitcher of green beer at a bar.

In the United States, you can’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without a few things—corned beef and cabbage, a green outfit (so you don’t get pinched), and green beer. But, have you ever thought about how your favorite festive drink got its start? What are the origins of green beer?

Green beer was created in 1914 by Dr. Thomas Hayes Curtin for a dinner at the Schnerer Club in New York City. He thought it would be a festive nod to the holiday to turn just about everything the vibrant color.

But, why green?

The origin story is a bit darker than you might think, but it’s also pretty inspirational!

In the 17th century when the people of Ireland were repressed by English rule, the color green came to represent unity within the country. The Catholics were represented by green, and the Protestants were associated with orange. If you look at the Irish flag today, you’ll see those two hues with a stripe of white between them, representing peace.

In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of the patron saint of the country, and how he converted many Irish people to Christianity. Yep, that “driving out the snakes” story is really just a metaphor. While the Irish are certainly known to celebrate with a pint or two, green beer has largely become an American tradition on the holiday.

So, if you plan on ordering a frosty mug of green beer this St. Patrick’s Day, take pride in this little nugget of history you can share with your friends, and drink to the celebration of peace. Sláinte!

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