she·nan·i·gan | \ shə-ˈna-ni-gən \
Definition of shenanigan
1: a devious trick used especially for an underhand purpose
2: a: tricky or questionable practices or conduct —usually used in plural
b: high-spirited or mischievous activity —usually used in plural
It doesn't matter if you're Irish or not, chances are that at some point in your life you've found yourself in a pub on March 17th with a dyed green lager or a foamy nitro stout in your hand. As you sat there, trying to yell over a mediocre Dropkick Murphy's cover band have you ever thought to yourself "Who in the hell was Saint Patrick?" and "Why did he dye my beer green?"
Sadly, your beer turning green wasn't a divine intervention. Kegs are usually dyed at the brewery or at the wholesaler en route to your local pub. Minus a couple of outliers in the early 1900's, Americans didn't start dying their beer green until after the city of Chicago decided to dye the Chicago river green in the 60's. After the first 40 gallons of dye were dumped in the river, Americans associated the color with the holiday. There's a Don Draper somewhere out there to thank.
The Irish have observed March 17th as a religious and cultural holiday for the past 1,000 years. Marking the death of their national patron Saint Patrick. He was thought to be a Roman British born slave, Kidnapped at the age of 16 and brought to Ireland. He later escaped and is accredited to bringing Christianity to Ireland. He was thought to have used a clover/shamrock to explain the Catholic holy trinity.
Up until the 19th century, most Irish-Americans were members of the Protestant middle class. There was a huge influx in Catholic Irish immigrants in the US after a severe famine that hit Ireland in 1845. Bringing them the practices and celebrations we see today.
It doesn't matter if green beer isn't your jam, or if you lack the freckles to prove your Irish for the night. You can always grab a stout and please celebrate responsibly.