Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Kiss Me We're All Irish: St. Paddy's Day

At the Montreal Parade, because there's a lot of Leprechauns there...

Happy Green Beer day everyone! Many Canadians and Americans, regardless of their heritage, will be out celebrating Saint Patrick’s day. Modern festivities include Irish and Celtic music, lots of food, and lots of beer. While this is the tradition in Canada, the saint’s day was originally a day of prayer.

Someone actually made a St. Patrick crochet doll. Where's the snakes?
For centuries, St. Patrick’s day was celebrated as a holy day. St. Patrick was a Roman-British priest that brought Christianity to Ireland. He also is credited with driving all the snakes out of Ireland, but we know where they all went (looking at you, England). He is said to have died on 17 March 461 AD. His popularity in Ireland grew to being named the country’s patron saint. By the 900s, the Irish celebrated his memory by attending church and holding feasts. It was made a recognized Catholic feast day in the 1600s. It falls during the Christian season of Lent, and Lent’s tight prohibitions against the eating of meat were released. After attending mass, people would dance, drink and enjoy the traditional meal of corned beef (Irish bacon and just awesome) and cabbage.

One big part of modern celebrations is massive parades. The first one was not in Ireland, but was held in America, on March 17, 1762. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched in New Amsterdam (New York), were trying to keep their own culture alive in this new country. New York City became a major centre for Irish Diaspora, and the parades continued and spread to all parts of North America. More than one hundred parades are now held, and have expanded into Irish festivals such as the Irish Association of Manitoba three-day festival of culture in the week of St Patrick's Day.

At the Boston Parade: "Bloody hell, Bobby! That ain't St. Nick - he just gave us a bag of snakes!"

Another tradition is to wear green on the day of; it is said that St. Patrick taught the Irish about the trinity (Father, son and the holy spirit) by using a clover. This may be where the North American tradition of wearing green and clovers came from. However, the color was long considered to be unlucky in Ireland. Irish folklore holds that green is the favorite color of the fairies. In modern celebrations, however, the Irish use the clover green in celebrations.

The more modern drinking aspect of St. Patrick’s day happened in North America, not Ireland, until very recently. Up until the 1970s, St. Patrick’s was seen as a holy day only and pubs were closed. When that rule was lifted, more people went back to the tradition of feast and lifting a few drinks. A major St. Patrick’s festival is held in Dublin to bring tourists and locals together to celebrate Irish culture. So as my Great-grandad would have said: sláinte! (Cheers and get wasted)

Irish whiskey Irish dancing Shamrocks Book of Kells Uilleann pipes ...
Whiskey, music, dancing, rugby with an edge of cool castles: these are my kind of people. Could do without the Bono though.

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