St Patrick’s Day

2018-03-14 06:00

IT will be more than 50 shades of green on Saturday as throughout the world St Patrick’s Day is celebrated, mainly in Ireland, but with huge parades in America and the UK too.

The patron saint of Ireland, he was said to have been kidnapped as a teenager by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland where he worked as a slave.

After six years he managed to escape back to Britain — he said his time as a slave meant he became closer to God through prayer and this paved the way for his conversion to Christianity. In later years, he was appointed a bishop and went back to Ireland to carry out missionary work.

According to popular legend, St Patrick rid Ireland of snakes.

However, it is thought that there have been no snakes in Ireland since the last ice age! The “snakes” that St Patrick banished from Ireland may refer to the druids or pagan worshipers of snake or serpent gods.

“Though St Patrick is an Irish Saint

An Irishman, alas, he a’int;

And when he spoke

In phases terse

Expelling snakes

It wasn’t

Erse”

The symbol of the day is the three-leaf green shamrock (clover), of which St Patrick is said to have used to teach the Holy Trinity.

There is a tradition “drowning the shamrock” which involves putting a shamrock at the bottom of a cup, filling it with whiskey or beer, then drinking it. In parades the wet shamrock is either drunk or tossed over the shoulder for good luck.

Although drinking beer (Guiness) is very much part of the celebrations from 1903 to 1970, St Patrick’s Day was declared a religious observance day which meant all pubs in Ireland were closed. But in 2017 13 million Guiness’ were sold on the day!

Traditional foods associated with St Patrick’s Day include corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew, beef and Guiness pie and of course, Irish coffee!

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