- Posted by Johanna
- On 27th February 2017
- 0 Comments
Depending on where you are from, you may know a lot or then not really anything about St. Patrick’s day. You might have seen people dressed in green with crazy hats and maybe even fake beards walking around town, often quite drunk. But is there something behind all this? Who was St. Patrick and what is the day all about? Let’s find out.
Who was St. Patrick?
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on the 17th of March, the anniversary of the death of St. Patrick on the fifth century. It has been a religious holiday for the Irish for over 1000 years. Patrick was perhaps quite surprisingly born in Britain and was taken as a prisoner at the age of 16. He was in captivity in the Irish countryside for six years, where he worked in solitude as a shepherd. During this lonely and hard time, he found strength in his belief and became a devoted Christian. After these six years, Patrick was able to escape, and it is said that he walked to the Irish coast and then escaped back to Britain. He then saw an angel in a dream who told him to return to Ireland as a missionary. After this Patrick started a long religious training and dis return to Ireland to convert the Irish and serve the already existing Christians.
History of the celebrations
After Patrick’s death, he has become integrated in the Irish culture and there are many stories revolving his life, many of these false though. One example of the bind between the Irish culture and St. Patrick is the fact that it is believed that Patrick used the shamrock and its leaves to explain people the concept of Holy Trinity.
Since the 9th century people have been celebrating St. Patrick’s day, but oddly enough instead of Ireland, the first parade was held in the United States by Irish soldiers in 1762. Today, people of all backgrounds celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, especially throughout the United States, Canada and Australia. Although North America is home to the largest productions, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in many other locations far from Ireland, including Japan, Singapore and Russia.
Up until the 1970s, in Ireland St. Patrick’s Day was mostly a religious holiday and for example all pubs were closed on March 17th. The Irish though then realized that the day was a good chance to showcase the Irish culture and drive tourism, and nowadays almost a million people attend the celebrations in Dublin.
In Dublin St. Patrick’s day is a multi-day celebration featuring parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions and fireworks shows. The celebrations are big also in North America, with parades, parties and special food. There are some important traditions and symbols associated with the Irish culture as well as St. Patrick’s day:
- The Shamrock
The Shamrock was a sacred plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolised rebirth and spring. Later it became the symbol of Irish nationalism and pride when the British rulers started to seize control over the country.
- Irish music
Since the ancient days, music has been an important part of the Celtic culture. Through music and songs stories and traditions were transferred from one generation to the other. When forbidden to use their own language by British rulers, songs were a way of keeping Celtic heritage alive. Instruments used today are still the same they were centuries ago, like the fiddle or the uilleann pipes.
- Traditional food
On St. Patrick’s day it is part of the celebration to prepare a traditional dish with cabbage and corned beef. Though cabbage has long been an Irish food, corned beef only began to be associated with St. Patrick’s Day at the turn of the century.
- The Leprechaun
The original Irish name for these figures of folklore is “lobaircin,” meaning “small-bodied fellow.” Belief in leprechauns probably stems from Celtic belief in fairies, tiny men and women who could use their magical powers to serve good or evil. Though only minor figures in Celtic folklore, leprechauns were known for their trickery, which they often used to protect their much-fabled treasure.
Now that you are an expert on St. Patrick’s Day, come and join us for our huge international Bar Crawl on Wednesday the 17th! You can amaze your friends with all these cool facts that you now know about the day or just simply have a crazy time and be a green leprechaun for a night.