Happy St Patrick’s Day from Seaside Home Loans!
In the midst of the green beers and bad attempts at Irish accents today, you might wonder for a moment, what’s this St Patrick’s Day tradition all about?
A fun account appears in The Independent today, replete with the expected Irish clichés and green beer homages. Enjoy!
Who was Saint Patrick?
The patron saint of Ireland brought Christianity to Ireland. He is believed to have died on 17 March sometime in the 5 century (some scholars place his death in AD 461) but the modern origin of the festival now celebrated globally stems from the 17 century. It was designated a religious feast day after the Vatican officially recognised the date in 1631.
Where is it celebrated?
It is an official public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat.
However, as anyone who likes a drink will know, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated far more widely.
Galicia, a small region in Spain, has some interesting links to Ireland. There is a body of historical evidence that indicates Ireland was by the Gaels, from the Iberian Peninsula.
There’s also an unusual link with Nigeria, to which St Patrick is also the patron saint of (he shares the title with the Virgin Mary). Home to 20 million Roman Catholics, St Patrick (and celebrations around him) landed along with the Catholic missionaries in the early 20 Century and has stayed ever since.
How is it celebrated?
Frequently by drinking far too much of the black stuff, often referred to as Guinness. According to Diageo, the global drinks firm that owns and distributes the inky drink, more than 13 million pints are consumed world-wide every St Patrick’s Day. That’s a lot of stout.
When did it become the all-singing, all-drinking party?
Not until fairly recently. It wasn’t an Irish public holiday until 1904, although the Irish elites did celebrate in the latter half of the 19th century with an annual ball held in Dublin castle – but for most ordinary folk it remained a quiet day. Until the mid-1960s, many pubs remained closed on 17 March.
The holiday – as we know it today – stems in great part from the United States, rather than the emerald isle.
Is St Patrick’s Day is actually an American holiday?
Not exactly, but they can be credited with turning it into the party we know it as today.
The Charitable Irish Society of Boston organised the first US celebration of St Patricks in 1737 with a small (elite) dinner to celebrate the Irish saint. The concept of a parade was started in 1766 when Irish Catholic members of the British Army were permitted to march the streets of New York.
As increasing numbers of Irish migrants arrived on American shores, and were frequently characterised as dirty, diseased or drunken, the celebration became a chance for the migrant communities to showcase their national pride and praise both the spirit of their homeland and their new home.
By the mid-20 century, manufacturers realised the potential of the holiday and turned it into big business. Nowadays anyone with even the vaguest claim to Irish ancestry (approximately 34 million Americans) takes to the streets for parades, parties and pub crawls.
Is there more to St Pat’s than Parties and Green Beer?
If you’re staying in for your St Patrick’s Day celebration, consider whipping up a homemade batch of delicious Irish Cream.
And what St Patrick’s Day celebration is complete without a traditional Irish blessing?
We’ve all heard the more famous Irish blessings of wind at our backs and downhill roads home after a wild night at the pub. But here’s one you might not know, “St Brigid’s Blessing for a Home.”
St. Brigid’s Blessing for a Home
May Brigid bless the house where you dwell,
every fireside door and every wall;
every heart that beats beneath its roof,
every hand that toils to bring it joy,
every foot that walks its portals through.
may Brigid bless the house that shelters you.
Happy St Patrick’s Day from our Irish-for-a-day family to yours!