Today is St. Patrick’s Day, a national day in Ireland, where we celebrate the feast of our national saint. He was actually a Welsh priest who introduced Christianity to pagan Ireland in the 4th century AD. It not only celebrates Patrick but also heritage and Irish culture in general.
Celebrations include public parades, the biggest in Ireland being the Dublin parade; outside Ireland New York’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade is world-famous. Festivals, ceilithe and wearing shamrocks and green are amongst some traditions of St. Patrick’s Day. The inclusion of the shamrock as the Irish national symbol stems from the legend that St. Patrick used it to explain the Holy Trinity to pagan Ireland.
Many places around the world also celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with expat Irish and their descendants in attendance. Many cities will mark the day by turning landmarks green including the Sydney Opera house, the Empire State building and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. However, the best I’ve personally seen is Chicago where they dye the Chicago river green! I once landed in Chicago on St. Patrick’s Day and got to witness this sight for myself. It’s rather impressive.
For me, as an Irish national living in the UK, St. Patrick’s Day often comes and goes in the blur of work. The lucky beggars at home get a day off as it’s a bank holiday in Ireland. I miss that. However I am looking forward to St. Patrick’s Day next year. The reason being it falls on a Friday and, as BattleKid will be 3 then, I plan to take him home for his first ever St. Patrick’s Day parade.
As a young child, the promise of going to watch the parade in the city centre kept you both in good spirits and on your best behaviour in the days leading up to the 17th of March. You would then drive or get the bus in as far as you could and then walk the rest of the way into Dublin city centre to watch the parade. You can only get so far by bus or car as they close off many streets from Patrick Street all the way to Parnell Square, meaning no vehicle can get to the centre of Dublin unless it is part of the parade itself. Walking the rest of the way was part of the fun!
As a teenager St. Patrick’s Day meant a day off school to spend with your friends either watching the parade in town or hanging around your own area of Dublin.
Nowadays St. Patrick’s Day is more than just a parade, with a whole festival taking part in Dublin in the days leading up to the 17th of March. This was introduced after BattleDad and I left Dublin and so I’d like to see what it’s all about next year with BattleKid.
For now I must contend with celebrating the only way I know how; by bringing cupcakes (shamrock and green themed of course), shamrock biscuits and Lily O’Brien chocolates into work (and nursery), and by kitting myself and BattleKid out in our best “Ireland” green t-shirts and tops.
Work actually appreciate St. Patrick’s Day if only for the Irish chocolates I bring in each year. I’ve found it a bit strange and quite disappointing that St. David’s Day and St. George’s Day are not made more of a big day here in the UK. After 12 years here you’d think I’d be used to it by now. Wouldn’t everyone love another bank holiday to celebrate these days in style like the Irish on Paddy’s Day? Maybe we should start a petition.
And while we’re on the subject, and before I finish, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, St. Paddy’s Day, Patrick’s Day or Paddy’s Day. IT IS NOT Patty’s Day!
In the words of Marcus Campbell:
“It’s Paddy, not Patty. Ever. Saint Patrick’s Day? Grand. Paddy’s Day? Sure, dead on. St. Pat’s Day? Aye, if you must. St. Patty? No, ye goat!”
as explained on paddynotpatty.com.