Monday, March 17, 2014

St Patrick's Day

Today is St Patrick’s Day. 

Apart from being a day when lots of non-Irish people wear green, drink a lot and say “to be sure, to be sure” to each other, what actually is it?

Some facts and trivia:

Saint Patrick's Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated annually on 17 March, the death date of the most commonly-recognised patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick (385–461). The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland but has also developed into a wider celebration of Irish heritage and culture generally.

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St Patrick’s Day was made a Christian feast day in the early 17th century and is observed by the Catholics, the Anglicans, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Lutherans.

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St Patrick’s Day celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, ceilithe (traditional Gaelic social gatherings with Gaelic folk music and dancing), and the wearing of green.

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“The wearing of the green” refers not to wearing green clothing but to wearing a shamrock to denote either Ireland or St Patrick, he having reportedly used the shamrock to illustrate the concept of the Holy Trinity. The expression comes from a song of the same name. Wearing green sashes or shamrocks to commemorate St patrick dates from the early 17th century.

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The reason St Patrick’s Day is often associated with drinking and eating is that the restrictions on drinking and eating for Lent are lifted for the day, leading to a tradition of drinking alcohol on St Patrick’s day.

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Saint Patrick's Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Montserrat.

It is also widely celebrated by the Irish around the world; especially in Britain, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

Chicago celebrates St Patrick’s Day each year, inter alia, by dyeing the river green and with a large parade.

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Favourite Irish joke:

Into a Belfast pub comes Paddy Murphy, looking like he'd just been run over by a train. His arm is in a sling, his nose is broken, his face is cut and bruised and he's walking with a limp. 

‘What happened to you?' asks Sean the bartender. 

‘Jamie O'Conner and me had a fight,' says Paddy. 

‘That little sod, O'Conner?' says Sean, ‘He couldn't do that to you, he must have had something in his hand.' 

‘That he did...' says Paddy, ‘...a shovel is what he had, and a terrible lickin he gave me with it.' 

‘Well,' says Sean, ‘You should've defended yourself...didn't you have something in your hand?'

‘That I did,' said Paddy. ‘Mrs. O'Conner's breast, and a thing of beauty it was...but useless in a fight.'

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