Monday, 17 March 2014

St. Patrick's Day

17th March 1753 - present (annual celebration)

This day in History...Saint Patrick's Day was first celebrated and has continued to be an annual celebration

St. Patrick's Day has been a widely celebrated occasion for hundreds of years. Most people probably only know it today as an excuse to get drunk, dress up like a leprechaun - or in green - and talk nonsense in an Irish accent. This modern perception of St. Paddy's day is of course fun and exciting, but its always important to remember the origins of such a day. It is after all a religious celebration.

Image retrieved from Google. Will remove at owner's request.Celebration time
A history lesson: When St. Patrick was 16 years old he was captured from his home in Roman-Britain by Irish pirates and was enslaved and held for 6 years in Ireland. During his time in captivity, St. Patrick worked as a Shepard and became critical of his spiritual development. It is believed that he reached out to God who had mercy on his youth and ignorance, converting him to Christianity. After the 6 years of building his strong relationship with the Lord, Patrick heard a voice tellign him that he would be returning home soon and that a ship was ready to take him. The Saint fleed his master, travelled 200 miles, found the ship and journeyed back to Great Britain. When Patrick returned home, now in his 20s, he continued to practice Christianity and had visions of helping the pagans and non-believers in Ireland. After becoming a cleric, Patrick went back to Ireland and travelled the country converting people and preaching his religion. Despite many difficulties and troubles from Kings and nobility, Patrick was able to become an ordained Bishop who baptised thousands and converted many rich women to nuns, and son's of Kings. 

Image retrieved from Google. Will remove at owner's request
St. Patrick 
Most of this historical story about St. Patrick comes straight from the horse's mouth. Two Latin letters survive today that were written by St. Patrick himself; The Declaration, which gives a short account of his life and his mission; and the Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus. It's amazing that these are still available as Patrick was believed to have lived c AD 385-461, making the letters extremely dated. 

Image retrieved from Google. Will remove at owner's request.
St. Patrick's Declaration 
Legends of Paddy: the weird and wonderful

  • The Shamrock (clover) - The 3 leaves of the shamrock were believed to represent the Holy Trinity, making it easy for Paddy to teach those whom he preached to
  • Snakes - The absence of snakes in Ireland is believed to be the work of Paddy. Legends tell us that he either chased the snaked into the sea after they attacked him, or that he put them in boxes and threw them into the sea. The latter theory also suggests that the rough Irish seas are due to the snakes trying to get out of the boxes
  • The Walking Stick - When Paddy was evangelising people he would always thrust his ash wood walking stick into the ground. It is believed that when he reached Aspatria, it took so long for his holy message to be accepted, that his stick had taken root into the ground, turning into a tree. 
Image retrieved from Google. Will remove at owner's request.
Celebrations: St. Patrick's day was made official in the 17th Century and is observed by Catholics, Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox and Lutherans. It is celebrated widely around the world, especially by the Irish diaspora countries like; Britain, Canada, US, Argentina, Australia and NZ. Most of the religions attend church on the day and the restrictions of Lent are lifted for the day in terms of food and consuming alcohol - hence the origin of getting wasted! Each place celebrates differently, but the general gist is; wearing green - shamrocks and the Irish flag; festivals and parades in the street; and parties in the Irish pubs around the world. Even the International Space Station has had Irish music being played on Irish instruments and photos of Ireland have been taken from Space. Basically, in order to celebrate St. Paddy's day, all you have to do is think 'green' and 'alcohol.' So wherever you are in the world, Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Image retrieved from Google. Will remove at owner's request.
President Obama in an Irish pub, just steps away from the Capitol, 2012
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