St Patrick's Day!

Posted by Helen Scott Taylor | 5:34 PM | , | 2 comments »


As St Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland, I searched the Internet for details of the traditional celebrations of St Patrick’s Day in Ireland, expecting to find all kinds of weird and wonderful ways the Irish celebrate this well know day.

There are lots of sites dedicated to the celebration of St Patrick’s Day in various parts of the world, but surprisingly few about Ireland. Ex-pat Irish all over the world, especially in North America, celebrate the day with enthusiasm. But the history of the saint’s day in Ireland suggest the celebrations we are familiar with today are fairly modern.

St. Patrick was a fifth-century English missionary to Ireland. He is thought to have converted many of the Irish to Christianity. The feast of St Patrick’s Day has been observed in Ireland for hundreds of years. The feast day falls during lent, but the church lifted the prohibition against eating meat for this day to allow the people to celebrate the day with dancing, drinking and feasting on the traditional Irish fare of cabbage and bacon.

As the feast was primarily a religious festival, the pubs in Ireland were required to close on March 17th until the 1970s when the law was changed. Over the years the day has become more a celebration of Irish culture and in the nineties, the Irish adopted the custom started in America and organized parades to celebrate the saint’s day in the major Irish cities.

The parade in Dublin, Ireland is now a weeklong affair including a fireworks display, street theatre, open-air Irish folk music, and a traditional parade.

Revelers wear shamrocks, the symbol of Ireland, tri-colored hats of green, white and orange, and girls decorate their hair with green ribbons.

Legend has it St Patrick used the three-leaved clover to demonstrate the doctrine of the trinity to his pagan Irish audience. Over the years, the shamrock became a symbol of Irish nationalism. Now the leaf-green color is synonymous with Ireland and people all over the world, both Irish and wanna-be Irish, will be decked out in green to celebrate today.

Happy St Patrick’s Day. Don’t drink too much Guinness!

2 comments

  1. Beth Trissel // March 18, 2008 at 1:55 PM  

    Very interesting post, Helen. I enjoyed it.

  2. Nightingale // March 19, 2008 at 9:40 AM  

    Wish I'd been there to go celebrate. Mine passed too quietly. When I lived in FL, we'd go out and drink green beer. Thanks for the insight, Helen.