Why Do We Eat Corned Beef on St. Patrick’s Day?

(Last Updated On: March 9, 2013)

Flat Cut Brisket Corned beef has become the traditional dish to enjoy each St. Patrick’s Day. The question is why? You might assume because that is what they eat in Ireland on this day. But the truth is eating corned beef on St. Patty’s Day is as American as apple pie. Beef was only eaten by the rich in Ireland. The corned beef tradition began when Irish people moved to the United States, particularly New York City. They were looking for a substitute for bacon joint, back bacon, or back rasher. True back bacon contains part pork loin and part pork belly (where we think of when we think of bacon). You can find Irish bacon in stores. It usually just meat from the loin and is the same thing as Canadian bacon. You can also look for peameal bacon. It is leaner than pork belly bacon and was originally rolled in crushed yellow peas but now normally just yellow cornmeal. You can use it or Canadian bacon as a sub for traditionally Irish back bacon.

Back to the story, when people from Ireland came over to our side of the pond, beef was more affordable and as I said their back bacon was hard to come by. So they treated the beef as they would have their back bacon. Over time this started becoming a traditional meal on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s still not popular in Ireland. The only places you will find serving up corned beef in Ireland today are those places that are catering to American tourists, who think they are having an authentic Irish meal. Don’t let this information stop you from enjoying your corned beef. It still is a tradition, an American tradition. It’s fun to be authentic but it won’t ruin your day if opt for American traditions.