The holiday makes the Irish the most celebrated immigrant group in America with parades, pub crawls and parties from coast to coast, including Thursday’s St. Paddy’s in Palouse.
But looking at this year’s events we noticed a challenge to the annual invasion of green beer and leprechauns. The Sons of Norway will hold its annual Scandinavian breakfast Saturday, March 19 and we got to thinking: In a contest of Scandinavia vs. Ireland, who would win? Which has better food, mythical beasts or music? We’ll let you be the judge in our face off between Ireland and Scandinavia, which includes Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.
Ancient history and legends
Scandinavia: The Viking age, a ski god named Ullr
Ireland: St. Patrick was a fifth century missionary to the Emerald Isle. The Blarney Stone is said to grant eloquence and the gift of flattery to those who kiss it.
Scandinavia: “Frozen,” “Thor,” “Trollhunter,” “The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” series, “The Seventh Seal,” “Beowulf”
Ireland: “Once,” “Waking Ned Devine,” “Angela’s Ashes,” “Leprechaun,” “The Secret of Kells,” “The Commitments”
Famous inventions and exports
Scandinavia: Legos (Denmark), pacemaker (Sweden), cheese slicer (Norway), Molotov cocktail (Finland), Angry Birds (Finland), dynamite (Sweden)
Ireland: Guinness, Waterford crystal, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Aran sweaters. Inventions include: color photography, rubber soles, submarine and guided missile
Ferocious mythical creatures
Scandinavia: Where to start? Living in the forests are trolls, big, hairy, maiden-stealing beasts that keep bears for pets. “Huldras” are beautiful, moody women with cow tails who suck the life out of men. Men aren’t safe at home. She-werewolves called “nattmara” sneak into the bedroom and ride their chest causing nightmares. In the water, shapeshifting “nokkens” play the violin to lure victims onto thin ice. Sea monsters called “krakens” patrol the coasts. Those who die at sea become “draugens” and sail half-boats looking to challenge the living to a death race. “Vittra” are invisible beings that live underground tending invisible cattle. They mostly leave people alone, unless you forget to perform certain rituals like warning them to move out of the way when you use the toilet. Then they can make your life miserable.
Ireland: The Irish have plenty of nightmare fodder. The “banshee” is a female ghost — which wouldn’t be so bad, except that her blood-curdling wail foretells death to one of its hearers. Then there are the “sluagh,” spirits said to come from the west who try to enter the homes of the dying in order to steal their souls. A “kelpie” might sound adorable, but it is a spirit-horse that comes out of the water, lures children onto its back where they become stuck and then plunges back into the water to drown and eat them. At least we can take comfort that the “ellen trechend,” a three-headed monster, was killed several hundred years ago.
Scandinavia: Lingonberries, fish, cheese, breads, pastries
Ireland: soda bread, Irish stew, bacon and cabbage, potato dishes galore — including colcannon, potatoes mashed with kale or cabbage, cream or butter and scallions and boxty, a type of potato pancake
Scandinavian: Akvavit, glogg
Ireland: Guinness stout, Irish whiskey
Scandinavia: A toss up between Blodsoppa, goose blood soup and lutefisk, dried whitefish cured with lye.
Ireland: Drisheen is Ireland’s blood pudding, a sausage made from blood, meat, fat, grain and seasoning. You’ve not had a truly Irish breakfast without it, but it’s also frequently served with tripe for other meals.
Scandinavia: Castles, Northern lights, reindeer safaris
Ireland: Castles, Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands
Benign mythical creature
Scandinavia: Mermaids sit on rocks, comb their hair and warn sailors of storms.
Ireland: Leprechauns are mischievous fairy-like creatures that wear green, make shoes, hide pots of gold at the end of rainbows and, if caught, will grant three wishes in exchange for release.
Scandinavia: Abba (Sweden), Ace of Base (Sweden), A-ha (Norway) Bjork (Iceland)
Ireland: U2, Van Morrison
Scandinavia: Stoic, nature-loving, mistrustful of strangers
Ireland: Short-tempered, passionate, witty
Scandinavia: Greta Garbo (Sweden), Ingrid Bergman (Sweden), Viggo Mortensen (Denmark)
Ireland: Pierce Brosnan, Colin Farrell, Liam Neeson, Daniel Day-Lewis
Famous cultural contributors
Scandinavia: Henrik Ibsen (Norway), Alfred Nobel (Sweden), Edvard Munch (Norway), Karl Stig-Erland “Stieg” Larsson (Sweden), Hans Christian Andersen (Denmark)
Ireland: James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett
Reason to live here
Scandinavia: Sweden and Norway give more than a year paid maternity and paternity leave to both parents. Denmark offers students free tuition and $900 a month. In Sweden people are allowed to roam and camp freely on public and private land.
Ireland: Full-time employees get a mandatory minimum of 20 days of vacation. There are no native snakes on Ireland, you won’t encounter them unless you visit the zoo.
If You Go
What: The Palouse Arts Council’s 13th annual St. Paddy’s in Palouse
When: 6 p.m. Thursday, March 17
Where: 220 E. Main St., Palouse
Cost: $5, ages 10 and younger free.
Of Note: There will be Irish music by Potatohead, Irish dancing, a no-host bar, soda bread, cheese and other snacks.
What: The Sons of Norway annual Scandinavian Breakfast
When: 8-11 a.m. Saturday, March 19
Where: Valley Community Center, 549 Fifth St., Clarkston
Cost: $7 adults, $2 kids 6 and younger.
Of Note: Foods featured are Oslo egg and sausage casserole, Swedish tea ring, Danish puff, lefse, krumkaka, rosettes, and risengrynagrot (rice pudding) with raspberry sauce and pannkakors (pancakes). Proceeds go to local charities.