A little history….
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on the 17th March.
St. Patrick himself is a man of mystery and very little is known about him. What we do know is that St. Patrick was born in Britain to a wealthy family. When he was 16 years old he was taken to Ireland as a bargaining prisoner.
After being transported to Ireland he worked in the hills as a shepherd. During this time he was lonely and scared and turned to Christianity to help him get through. To escape St. Patrick walked over 200 miles to the Irish coast and made his way back to Britain.
St. Patrick had visions of a Christian Ireland and after returning to Britain he gathered himself and returned to Ireland to preach to the people.
St. Patrick’s Day falls in the time of lent, a time of fasting. In Ireland families would generally attend church in the morning and then celebrate in the evening. On this day they ignored the rules of lent and would have lots of good food and plenty of drink.
In Ireland up until the 1970’s pubs were closed by law (as they were on a Sunday) on St. Patrick’s Day. In 1995 the Irish government realised the potential profit in opening their doors to tourists and began a marketing campaign to showcase Ireland to the rest of the world. Last year they attracted almost 1 million people to the capital Dublin and I have to say the really do put on a good show.
Typically the first big St. Patrick’s Day parade was actually held in good old New York in the USA not in Ireland at all. In 1962 the city of Chicago took the day to a whole new level and actually dyed the river that runs through the city green!
It was an idea put forward by the cities pollution-control workers who used dyes to trace illegal sewage waste. They released 100 pounds of vegetable dye which was enough to keep it green for a whole week. Today they still carry on the tradition but only use 40 pounds of the dye to minimise the environmental impact. This amount keeps it green just for the day.
Shamrocks are everywhere on St. Patrick’s Day, also knows as the ‘seamroy’ to the Celts. It is a sacred plant which symbolises the rebirth of spring. It also became a symbol for the patriotic Irish, as the English claimed Irish soil the Irish men began to wear Shamrocks as a symbol of pride in their heritage and to state their displeasure with English rule.
The day has become more about advertising and drinking than the religious feast it once was. It is celebrated all over the world. So go out, celebrate and drink Guinness (please drink responsibly).
And while you are out enjoying yourself here are a few Irish ditties and toasts to say whilst raising your glass to good old St. Patrick….
The Scots have their whiskey
The Welsh have their tongue
But the Irish have Paddy
Who’s second to none
I’ve drunk to your health in the pubs ,
I’ve drunk to your health in my home ,
I’ve drunk to your health so many times ,
That I’ve almost ruined my own.
May you never forget what is worth remembering,
Or remember what is best forgotten.
There are many good reasons for drinking,
One has just entered my head,
If a man doesn’t drink when he’s living,
How the hell can he drink when he’s dead?
May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future.
May you get all your wishes but one,
So you always have something to strive for.
Here’s to you,
here’s to me,
the best of friends we’ll always be.
But if we ever disagree,
forget you here’s to ME!!
Here’s to you as good as you are,
Here’s to me as bad as I am,
As good as you are,
And as bad as I am,
I’m as good as you are,
As bad as I am.
May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
Health, and long life to you
Land without rent to you
The partner of your heart to you
and when you die, may your bones rest in Ireland!