St Patrick’s Day 2014

March 12, 2014 by The Co-op Observer 20850

The Feast of St Patrick, or as we now more commonly call it, St Patrick’s Day, is enjoyed all over the world on 17th March, and is actually a public holiday in Republic of Ireland, as well as in Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada and on the tiny island of Monserrat, known as “Emerald Island of the Caribbean ” because of its founding by Irish refugees from Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Celebrating the heritage and culture of the Irish in general, it specifically marks the day that Christianity arrived in Ireland. Now, whilst the religious significance is still an important part of the day itself, we are just as likely to get involved in a parade or a festival meal, wear a shamrock and have a small glass or two of Guinness.

The shamrock and the colour green have great significance when thinking about St Patrick’s Day. However originally, the colour associated with Saint Patrick was blue. Over the years green has prevailed. Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St Patrick’s Day as early as the 17th century. Saint Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish, and the commonly-seen wearing and display of shamrocks and shamrock-inspired designs has become a feature of the day.

There are many glorious parties and celebrations held to celebrate St Patrick’s, notably in Ireland. Alongside parades all over the country, the Dublin Saint Patrick’s Festival is now a famous 5-day long event. First held on 17 March 1996, by 2000 it was a four-day event. Now a five day long celebration, more than 1 million people attend annually, taking part in festivities that includes concerts, outdoor theatre performances, and fireworks.

As well as in Ireland, famous street parties are held in other countries, notably Japan, Malaysia, Russia, Canada and the United States. In Britain, the largest Saint Patrick’s Day party is held in Birmingham, with a city centre parade stretching for over a two miles through the city centre. It’s heralded as the third biggest parade in the world after Dublin and New York.  And in London, since 2002, an annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade has taken place on a weekend closest to 17thMarch, usually in Trafalgar Square. In 2008 the water in the fountains was dyed green, what a curious sight that must have been.

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