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Happy St. Patrick's Day

Updated: Mar 16

Or Sona Lá Fhéile Pádraig!

Once again I’ve learned a lot about a day I only knew as St. Patrick’s Day, a day to wear green, have green alcohol and just be merry.

Patrick was Roman-British and at the age of 16 was kidnapped by Irish Raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland. There he spent six years as a shepherd and during that time “found God”. It’s said that God told Patrick to flee to the coast as there would be a ship waiting to take him home. After making his way home Patrick became a priest.

According to traditions, Patrick returned to Ireland and converted Pagan Irish to Christianity. The Feast of Saint Patrick (national holiday in all of Ireland) is a cultural religious celebration held on March 17th to honour the death of Patrick in 461 in Saul, County Down, Ireland. He became Irelands foremost Saint because legend has it he stood on a hilltop with his green attire and drove the “snakes” out of Ireland. He did this by waving his staff and herding the snakes into the sea, expelling them from Emerald Isle forever. Other than in a zoo or as a pet, there are no snakes in Ireland.

Celebrations generally include parades, Irish traditional music and dance, more use of the Irish language, and Lenten restrictions on food and drink are lifted for the day. Because of this - drinking alcohol, particularly Irish whiskey, beer or cider - has become an integral part of the celebrations. Terms like “drowning the shamrock” or “wetting the shamrock” are especially popular in Ireland. At the end of the celebrations, a shamrock is placed in the bottom of a glass, then filled with drink. It is then drunk as a toast to St. Patrick. The shamrock would either be swallowed or tossed over the shoulder for good luck.

According to legend, St. Patrick used the three-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagans and to this day it is customary to wear shamrocks or green to honour him. First literary mention of the four-leaf clover was in 1620 when Sir John Melton wrote if you carried a four-leaved clover you were protected against bad luck and would be able to see fairies. Shamrocks and four-leaf clovers are not the same. The word Shamrock refers to the clover with three leaves and symbolizes Faith, Hope and Love. The four-leaved symbolizes Faith, Hope, Love and Luck. Both are used on St. Patrick’s day and today

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