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Saint Patrick’s Day

Category: English Culture | 2017-03-17

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you! Today, like every year on March 17th, we celebrate this Irish holiday. In theory, it is the celebration of the life of Saint Patrick, a 5th century Irish priest, famous for bringing Christianity to Ireland. More to the point, it’s a day where we can all be a little Irish!

The Legend of Saint Patrick

It is said that he was born to a wealthy family in Roman Britain. His father was a deacon in the Christian church and his grandfather was a priest. Despite this upbringing, he considered himself a pagan during his childhood. However, his attitude toward the church changed when he was kidnapped at the age of sixteen. He was held captive for six years and here he found God, who came to him in a vision. He was told to go to the coast to find a ship that would be waiting for him. After finding his way home, he too became a priest in the church and devoted his life to converting other pagans.

He spent years spreading the word of God in Northern Ireland. He founded monasteries and converted thousands of people. His campaign against Druids was later adapted and forged the myth of him driving the “snakes” out of Ireland. Although they tried to catch him and put him in prison many times, he always managed to escape. This only added fuel to the many stories and legends that surrounded Saint Patrick.

He settled in County Down after years of missionary work. Upon his death on March 17 461 AD, he was buried at Downpatrick, a town 30 km south of Belfast. The legends have continued to grow until today.

Saint Patrick’s Day Celebrations

Today’s celebrations are a far cry from the original Christian observations and feasting. Originally, the day was a day of remembrance and family feasting. According to Time, it was not until 1737, in Boston, that the first celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day took place. A group of wealthy Irish-Americans gathered for a dinner dedicated to “the Irish Saint”, assumed to be Saint Patrick. Less than thirty years later, the parades began with members of the military honoring the Irish Saint.

Saint Patrick's Day Parade, MacPherson Language Institute

Saint Patrick’s Day Parade

As Irish immigration to America increased, so did the grandeur of the celebrations. This was due largely to the hardships that the Irish faced in the new land. The events grew bigger and moved to public venues to let their new countrymen know they were there to stay.

Eventually, around 1920, Ireland also joined in with their own Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations that went beyond food and church services. But rather than being the festive events of Boston and New York, the Dublin parade was much more sombre. In fact, until the 1960’s there was no drinking on the holiday, as bars closed in Ireland on March 17th in respect to Saint Patrick.

Finally, in 1996, there was a major shift in the attitude towards the holiday with the first Saint Patrick’s Day Festival. Now a major tourist attraction featuring music, parades and an endless stream of shiny green accessories.

Saint Patrick’s Day in Canada

In my homeland, Canada, we also celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with the fervour of college frat boys. Bars will be full, parades will march and everyone will drink themselves full on green beer. There is a long-standing tradition of celebrations in Canada, the most famous of which is in Montreal. There, people have been holding their yearly parade since 1824. In fact, Irish soldiers in the Montreal Garrison began celebrating the holiday as far back as 1759.
Saint Patrick's Day, Green Beer, MacPherson Language Institute

Green Beer for Saint Patrick’s Day!

Toronto also has a rich history of celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day, with their parade dating back to 1863. The annual parade attracts over 100, 000 visitors each year. As it happens, the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team was known as the Toronto St. Patricks from 1919 to 1927. During this time, the team did not wear their familiar blue and white, but sported green jerseys. This year, to celebrate their 100th year, they will be wearing the St. Pats jerseys again!

Saint Patrick's Day, Toronto St. Pats, Green Jersey, Toronto Maple Leafs, MacPherson Language Institute

Jersey scheduled for March 18, 2017

Your Saint Patrick’s Day Celebrations

So, what will you do this year for Saint Patrick’s Day? Does your company have any celebrations planned? Will you be eating a feast of corned beef and cabbage or drinking a pint of green beer? Let us know in the comments below.

Whatever you choose to do, I hope you go out and have a great time! Be safe and be merry, and watch out for leprechauns! Thanks for reading and be sure to join our mailing list for more articles, tips and exclusive deals.

Sláinte na bhfear agus go maire na mná go deo! (roughly translated – Health to the men and may the women live forever!


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