martes, 10 de marzo de 2009

Saint Patrick's Day

Who Was Saint Patrick?

Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and although it is celebrated around the world, the information about his life is quite vague. Most information about St. Patrick has been , simply made up over centuries by storytellers. However, there are a some elements of his life about which most historians accept to be true.
Saint Patrick lived about between 432-461 A.D At the age of sixteen he was kidnapped from his native land of the Roman British Isles by a band pirates, and sold into slavery in Ireland. Saint Patrick worked as a shepherd and turned to religion when he was alone. After six years of slavery he escaped to the Irish coast and fled home to Britain.
While back in his homeland, Patrick decided to become a priest and then decided to return to Ireland after dreaming that the voices of the Irish people were calling him to convert them to Christianity.
After studying and preparing for several years, Patrick travelled back to Ireland as a Christian missionary. Although there were already some Christians living in Ireland, St. Patrick was able to convert to Christianity many people.
Patrick's mission in Ireland lasted for thirty years. It is believed he died in the 5th century on March 17, which is the day St. Patrick's Day is commemorated each year.

How is it celebrated?
In Ireland
Ireland wasn’t the first country to celebrate St Patrick’s Day with a parade and, up until 1970, pubs across Ireland closed their doors as a mark of respect for this religious occasion! It was, in fact, colonial New York City that hosted the first official St Patrick’s Day parade back in 1762, when Irish immigrants in the British colonial army marched down the city streets to St Patrick’s Cathedral. Dublin’s first St Patrick’s Day Parade is little more than 75 years old.
In 2009, the St Patrick's Day festival (March 13-17) in Dublin is celebrated in style, with music, street theatre, family carnivals and up to 4000 performers joining the fun.

With the origin being Ireland it is obvious that the Day is also holiday in the USA. But in Ireland, it is more of a religious holiday similar to Christmas and Easter. It is celebrated with parades, community feasts, charity show, the mass. The parades, shamrocks, and green beer are provided primarily for tourists. In fact, it has turned out to be one of the most celebrated events in Ireland and a major tourist attraction.

The early Irish immigrants like the English, Dutch, German, French and the likes, brought their traditions in United States. But it was not until 1737 that the immigrants really celebrated the Day.
It was in Boston where the Day was first celebrated in a public way. Gradually other states took it up. And it was New York that took out the largest ever St Patrick' s Day parade. Held since 1762.
The city of Chicago has developed a unique tradition of coloring the river water green. It started in 1962 when 100 pounds of green vegetable dye were added to its river, enough to keep it green for a week. The tradition has continued till date. Now, 40 pounds of a green food coloring keep the river green for only a few hours.
Irish community in various cities celebrate the Day with social and community works. Making charities, attending mass, promoting their own culture, and feasting with their foods.
To check what you know about Saint Patrick click on quiz.
To do some activities click here.

You can see a sample of Saint Patrick's parades.

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