St Patrick’s Day

I’m not Irish and have no Irish connections that I know of so have never gotten in to St Patrick’s Day (Lá Fhéile Pádraig), but if it means something to you, as a proud Irish immigrant or descendant or just like an excuse to have a good time then go for it.

Today’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations have been greatly influenced by those that developed among the Irish diaspora, especially in North America. Until the late 20th century, St Patrick’s Day was often a bigger celebration among the diaspora than it was in Ireland.

A lot of festive days have evolved markedly through international influences – and recently especially through marketing influences.

Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, céilithe (Irish traditional music sessions), and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. There are also formal gatherings such as banquets and dances, although these were more common in the past. St Patrick’s Day parades began in North America in the 18th century but did not spread to Ireland until the 20th century.

The participants generally include marching bands, the military, fire brigades, cultural organizations, charitable organizations, voluntary associations, youth groups, fraternities, and so on. However, over time, many of the parades have become more akin to a carnival. More effort is made to use the Irish language; especially in Ireland, where the week of St Patrick’s Day is “Irish language week”. Recently, famous landmarks have been lit up in green on St Patrick’s Day.

Christians also attend church services and the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day.

No wonder partying on St Patrick’s Day is popular.

Perhaps because of this, drinking alcohol – particularly Irish whiskey, beer or cider – has become an integral part of the celebrations.

The St Patrick’s Day custom of ‘drowning the shamrock’ or ‘wetting the shamrock’ was historically popular, especially in Ireland.At the end of the celebrations, shamrock is put into the bottom of a cup, which is then filled with whiskey, beer or cider. It is then drank as a toast; to St Patrick, to Ireland, or to those present. The shamrock would either be swallowed with the drink, or be taken out and tossed over the shoulder for good luck.

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It is claimed that St Patrick used the three leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans. I didn’t know that until now.

Some have described St Patrick’s Day celebrations outside Ireland as displays of “Plastic Paddyness”; where foreigners appropriate and misrepresent Irish culture, claim Irish identity, and enact Irish stereotypes.

That’s not unusual, similar has happened to many celebrations, like Easter and Christmas.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick%27s_Day