Shamrocks and Such

It's March 17th already?

I have always loved St. Patrick's Day. Not for any particular reason, but I can remember when I was younger getting excited about wearing green so I didn't get pinched! Being older I also enjoy drinking a green beer once a year. As I was reading some St. Patty's themed blogs this morning I realized that I have no idea why we celebrate this holiday. This poses a problem considering I'm dating a guy who is very proud of his Irish heritage. So off to Wikipedia I went to educate myself on the holiday's origin...and oh happy day, you get to learn too!
Here's my version with a little twist...

First things first, St. Patrick's Day is named after Saint Patrick. Who is Saint Patrick you ask? He was born into a wealthly Romano-British family in the fifth century. When he was sixteen he was kidnapped by some mean Irish raiders (of course they were mean, they kidnapped him didn't they?!) and taken to Ireland to be a slave. But sometime later, God told him in a dream to run to the coast and hop on a ship to come back to Britain (sounds simple enough). Soon after, he became a priest (perhaps to show his thanks to God for this eye opening dream?).

Then in 432, Saint Patrick says he was called back to Ireland to save the Irish. Save as in Salvation. God is funny like that...He'll take you back somewhere to do something you NEVER thought you'd be able to do! I mean, think about how Saint Patrick must have felt...God says hey Saint take a ride back on over to Ireland. I have some people over there I want you to share the Good News with. I can only imagine his fear. But being a faithful follower, he went and God used him to convert lots and lots of people. Get ready here comes the shamrock part! One of Pat's teaching methods included the shamrock. He used it to explain the Trinity...God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (very clever Patty!). He continued to spread the Gospel for about 30 years then he died on March 17, 461!

OK, so we have the date part down...here comes the green. Originally, the color blue was associated with the holiday because of it's symbolism for Ireland (you can read more about that here). Then, one day it changed (I don't know when and it's really not clear). The wearing of green ribbons and shamrocks (because of the trinity) can be dated back to as early as the 17th century. The wearing of green can also be associated with the song
"The Wearing of the Green"
which was done by Irish soldiers in the 1798 rebellion in hopes to catch the attention of political leaders. It was their fashion statement.

Alright, so now we know the date and the color. How about the history of the events on the holiday? It's been celebrated for a long time, say since before the 1600s. It's been said that it served as a break during Lent to drink beer and such. It is now recognizing as a feast day on the calendar of saints. However, it wasn't until 1903 that St. Patrick's Day became an official holiday in Ireland (this surprises me). At one point in time, pubs were actually ordered to close on the 17th because drinking got so out of hand, but you'll be happy to know it was repealed in the 1970s. Although secular celebrations now exist, the holiday remains a religious observance in Ireland, for both the Roman Catholic Church and Church of Ireland. It was in the 1990s that Ireland began to use the holiday to showcase its history and culture. They setup a group called St. Patrick's Festival with the goal to:
Offer a national festival that ranks amongst all of the greatest celebrations in the world and promote excitement throughout Ireland via innovation, creativity, grassroots involvement, and marketing activity.

— Provide the opportunity and motivation for people of Irish descent, (and those who sometimes wish they were Irish) to attend and join in the imaginative and expressive celebrations.

— Project, internationally, an accurate image of Ireland as a creative, professional and sophisticated country with wide appeal, as we approach the new millennium.
The first festival was held in 1996 on March 17th, of course. Each year it has grown by leaps and bounds, with last year's attendance reaching around 1 million people!

Is your brain growing? Another fun tradition that you might of heard of....The Kissing of the Blarney Stone. You can learn more about that here, and read a funny story about it over at Daydream Believer.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

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