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Every year on the 17th March, Ireland and the rest of world celebrate one of its patron saints, St. Patrick. St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in Ireland and the Irish people take that chance to celebrate this public-holiday like no other feast day. Did you know that, ironically, it is believed that St Patrick was actually of Scottish origin? He first visited Ireland when he was taken there as a slave by Irish raiders. Later he escaped from them. After returning home he turned into a Christian and he became a priest and later returned to Ireland to turn the pagan Irish into Christians. His work was to eventually turn all the Irish into Christians or at least that’s what the story says.
RANDOM FACT: Traditionally St. Patrick’s Day weekend was the potato planting weekend in Ireland.
Stepping a little bit back in time
Ireland was first populated around 10 000BC but very little is known about its habitants. In the fourth century BC Celtic people arrived on Irish shores. Also Vikings raided the island for about 350 years in the Irish history until they were pushed out by the Irish King, Muirecan. Not to mention the fact that the Normans also tried to take a grab for Ireland. Basically, everyone wanted a piece of Ireland and fought over it even when the island was under the British Crown.
St. Patrick’s Day in the US
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, St Patrick’s has now become somewhat of a global celebration, with every Irish Pub in every corner of the world ensuring that people can really savour this national holiday the way the Irish would be proud of. Did you know that the Irish build the biggest nationality group in America? At the moment there are about 19 Million Irish people living in the US. They make 8% of the whole population of the United States of America. Many if not most of them came to America during the Great Famine in Ireland in 1845-51. They earned money because of the new industry and the new world. Because of their togetherness they became a huge influence and force among the locals. Despite being far from home, the Irish still made sure that they remembered their roots and ensured they stuck to their traditional St. Patrick’s Day every year. The Irish spirit is infectious and soon enough the American people began to join in on the celebration. Funnily enough, many American’s have no idea who St Patrick is and around 73% of them are unable locate Ireland on a map but they still enjoy joining in on the celebrations anyway!
The “always thirsty” Irish people drink the “Green Beer” excessively on their national day. For those of you who find the idea of green beer bizarre then don’t because it’s just like normal beer but with added green food colouring. After much consumption of such beer you can imagine how the Irish feel the day after… Did you know that the traditional Irish cure for a hangover was to be buried up to the neck in moist river sand? – Perhaps we should skip the greasy fry up and try this too instead!
On St Patrick’s the world is greener. Take Chicago for example, Mr. Stephen Bailey was the first to colour the River running through the city green (this lasts for a whole week!). This tradition is now more than fifty-year-old and is repeated every year – only for a couple of hours though! Many Americans think that this Irish tradition is a little over the top and think that they should keep Mother Nature out of it. Even Irish living in Ireland are jealous of how over the top the celebrations have become in the US.
Celebrations in UK are much tamer – you’ll see a couple dozen of ginger wigs, green jackets, and shamrock hats floating around cities not to mention the odd leprechauns gallivanting about in the UK but nothing as major or ridiculous as colouring the River Thames green. Don’t be too shocked if you see a couple of blokes toasting with a pint of Guinness as early as 9am either and if a few moments later they hobble out putting on their best Irish accent – this is totally normal!! It’s definitely tamer but still joyful so make sure you don’t miss out on the fun on 17th March!
HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S!!!!
If you fancy a drink and an Irish dance meet us at O’Neill’s at 6pm in Bournemouth!
Every year on the 17th March, people gather all over the globe to celebrate the Irish holiday, better known as St Patrick’s Day. This year it was no different and it fell on a Tuesday. Usually Tuesday nights are quite quiet for most people but this Tuesday was an exception, considering most pubs were crammed full of people making the most out of this day. Since the original Irish holiday became global, the celebrations have climbed the scale – for a day that used to be relatively quiet, we have all adopted the popular American way of celebrating it with a ‘few’ pints.
Of course, WCE and our students weren’t going to miss out on the fun so we headed to the popular Irish pub, O’Neills at 6pm to have a couple of pints of Guinness (Irish dry stout and one of the most successful beer brands in the world!) and have a go at some Irish dancing to Irish folk music. O’Neills was absolutely packed making it quite warm but this was nothing a fresh beer couldn’t cure PLUS the party atmosphere was infectious and everyone was enjoying themselves. The Guinness (and the cider for me) got us all in a talkative mood and English conversations flowed easily. Given the lack of space there wasn’t much dancing going on apart from sidestepping but some of us, including myself, still had a guess of what exactly Irish dancing was. Unfortunately, I was informed that I was doing the wrong dance and had transgressed from Irish dancing to Russian dancing, which was quite amusing for everyone around me. But this is what St Patrick’s is all about now – it’s about letting your hair down, being merry and attempting to dance. After all, everyone is Irish one way or another on St Patrick’s Day.
Interestingly, one of our students asked why St Patrick’s Day is celebrated and what it’s all about. I suppose that days dedicated to saints are quite a common thing in more religious countries such as Italy, Portugal and Spain but you wouldn’t really think of Ireland as religious would you? St Patrick’s is an exception and just like Santo Antonio in Lisbon and San Isidro in Madrid, people have different ways of celebrating this day dedicated to these patron saints and generally these celebrations include drinking and some sort of dancing. Obviously, St Patrick’s Day has been internationalised, namely by Irish immigrants in the US.
St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and it is believed that he died on the 17th March around the 5th century but it was only declared a religious holiday in the 17th century when the Vatican recognised the day in 1631. It’s the official public holiday in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland but did you know that it was only made a public holiday in 1904. Of course, it was celebrated in the 19th century by the Irish elites with a nice SOPHISTICATED ball in Dublin but not to the extent it is celebrated today. Nowadays almost everyone takes to the streets for parties and most importantly pub-crawls where a great amount of Guinness is consumed in celebration of the Irish festival. In fact, did you know that more than 13 million pints of Guinness are consumed on St Patrick’s Day worldwide? Imagine how much money they get from this festival alone but I reckon as long as everyone is happy and enjoying themselves on this day that’s all that matters.