St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick is regarded as the patron saint of Ireland and the Irish commemorate his death in the fifth century on St. Patrick’s Day. For them it is an important religious event. St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on 17th of March for more than 1000 years now. The day is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church as well as the Lutheran Church of Ireland.
St. Patricks Day falls during the Christian month of Lent and the celebration is marked by scenes of general jubilation and merry making. People take a break from fasting and Lenten restrictions are not observed for the day.
Who was St. Patrick?
St. Patrick is famous for introducing Christianity in Ireland. His two works, the Confessio, an autobiography, and Epistola are the main sources of information about him. In Epistola he denounced the British monarchy for mistreating and discriminating against the people of Ireland.
He is believed to have been born during the second half of the fourth century. He was mostly famous for driving off snakes from the atolls of Ireland. Some, however, believe that it was only symbolical since he put an end to the pagan practices of the people of Ireland and snakes were often worshipped by the pagans.
He popularized Christianity by converting thousands of the warrior tribes in the ‘Holy Wells’. St. Patrick died on March 17, 460 A.D at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland where his jawbone is still preserve in a silver shrine and is believed to offer protection against evil.
Why wear green on St. Patrick’s Day?
The few items that became synonymous with the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day are the colors green and gold, and shamrock which is believed to bring good luck. The Irish wear green clothes on the day.
The original color associated with St. Patrick’s Day however wasn’t green but blue. However, over the years green and shamrock became the symbols of the event. It is believed that the saint used a shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit to the Irish pagans.
During the 1798 rebellion the national army of Ireland wore green uniform to attract public support and inspire patriotism among people. The famous song “the wearing of the green” is also said to have been derived from the tradition of wearing green attire on March 17.
Celebration in Ireland and Worldwide
The biggest celebration of the event takes place in Ireland. It is a national holiday in Ireland and all offices and public places, except restaurants and pubs, remain closed during the day. Parades and fun runs are organized in many parts of the country and people gather at the restaurants, houses and pubs to celebrate with songs and dances. As a result of the religious connotation of the event Masses are organized and attended by the Irish people.
The afternoons are reserved for feats and celebrations. The Lenten restrictions of consuming meat and alcohol are done away with for the day and families enjoy elaborate meals of Irish traditional dishes made from bacon and cabbage. Everyone would wear green clothes and shamrock as parts of the traditions.
St. Patrick’s Day is regarded as the day to show respect to the missionaries all over the world. When the Irish community traveled to the other parts of the world they took their practices and customs with them and hence, St. Patrick’s Day is now celebrated in the UK, Canada, the US, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand as well as Japan, Russia and Singapore.
In the US, St Patrick’s Day is a big event in states with high Irish population. The first St. Patrick parade was also organized in the US and not in Ireland.
The St. Patrick’s Day parade organized by the New York Irish Aid societies in 1848 is now regarded as the oldest civilian parade in the world. Today it attracts almost 0.15 million revelers. Almost 3 million people gather at the New York City every year to witness the 1.5-mile parade.
Today the St. Patrick’s Day is one of the major tourist attractions of Ireland. Since 1995 the event has been promoted by the national government to showcase Irish culture and customs to the world. Today, Ireland receives more than 1 million tourists during the event in Dublin.
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