St Patrick’s Day – why bother?

 

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

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This is a picture of the knitted leprechaun (by Alan Dart). I love him!

I knitted this one for someone. It’s a great present for an Irish person, so if you know any and are a knitter, get the pattern and get started…

It’s nearly St Patrick’s Day….
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated not only in Ireland but in other countries where there are large pockets of Irish people. I don’t live in a community of Irish people so not much happens and St Patrick’s Day passes mostly like any other day. Am I bothered? No, not really. What’s in a day? As I get older, even my birthdays generally pass as normal days, except maybe with a few gifts and a meal out, if I’m really lucky! And most people find, as they get older, that Christmas and Easter and all those other ‘special’ days don’t feel anywhere near as special when you’ve had loads of them over the years. I guess that’s why people often like to be around children at Christmas time so they can try and pick up some of the excitement they wouldn’t otherwise feel.

Is this a bad thing? No, I don’t think so. I know it doesn’t feel so exciting any more but maybe we can be more reflective about it and get more out of it in the end.

So What’s St Patrick’s Day all about then?

(Thanks to History.com and StPatricksDay.com for some of the facts below.)

Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. He was born in Roman Britain, kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He later escaped, but returned to Ireland and was credited with bringing Christianity to its people. In the centuries following Patrick’s death (believed to have been on March 17, 461, hence St Patrick’s Day on 17th March each year), the mythology surrounding his life became ever more ingrained in the Irish culture. St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday known for parades, shamrocks and all things Irish. From leprechauns to the colour green, there are many symbols we now associate with St. Patrick’s Day.

The traditional meal for St Patrick’s Day is Irish bacon and cabbage, which in America has become corned beef and cabbage, as early Irish Americans found it cheaper than bacon.

The shamrock was a sacred plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolized the rebirth of spring. The shamrock later became a symbol of emerging Irish nationalism, and many Irish began to wear the shamrock as a symbol of their pride in their heritage and their displeasure with English rule. This gradually turned into a wearing of green clothing also.

From ancient days of the Celts, music has always been an important part of Irish life. The Celts had an oral culture, where religion, legend and history were passed from one generation to the next by way of stories and songs. Today, traditional Irish bands are gaining worldwide popularity. Their music is produced with instruments that have been used for centuries, including the fiddle, the uilleann pipes (a sort of bagpipe), the tin whistle and the bodhran (an ancient type of framedrum).

Leprechauns: The original Irish name for these figures of folklore is “lobaircin,” meaning “small-bodied fellow.” In Celtic folktales, leprechauns were cranky souls, responsible for mending the shoes of the other fairies. Leprechauns were known for their trickery, which they often used to protect their much-fabled treasure. Leprechauns had nothing to do with St. Patrick or the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, a Catholic holy day. In 1959, Walt Disney released a film called Darby O’Gill & the Little People, which introduced America to a very different sort of leprechaun than the cantankerous little man of Irish folklore. This cheerful, friendly leprechaun is a purely American invention, but has quickly evolved into an easily recognizable symbol of both St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland in general.

Parades on St Patrick’s Day actually started in America. In 1848, several New York Irish Aid societies decided to unite their parades to form one official New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Today, that parade is the world’s oldest civilian parade and the largest in the United States, with over 150,000 participants. Each year, nearly 3 million people line the 1.5-mile parade route to watch the procession, which takes more than five hours.

So St Patrick’s Day has become a general celebration of being Irish and an opportunity for Irish people to get together in other parts of the world. Like many other religious festivals, the religious aspect is less obvious or less celebrated now but is still there for many people and should not be ignored. To those who celebrate its intended meaning, St. Patrick’s Day is a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide.

An Irish Toast for you…
“May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow and may trouble avoid you wherever you go.”
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