Saturday, 6 August 2011

Little known facts about St Paddy's Day

I know, St Paddy’s day is a wee way off yet but  recently I’ve been expanding my knowledge about the significance of this day & have stumbled across a few unknown facts.... unknown to me that is.

Did you know that this most Irish of days is actually a Public Holiday in the Republic of Ireland & Northern Ireland.... I did not know that.  And so it should be.   I’m just a little peeved that we don’t get a day off to celebrate it down here in the Southern Hemisphere too.  Surely if it is good enough for Newfoundland, Labrador & Montserrat to observe it as a Public Holiday, then what’s up with the Kiwi’s, Aussie’s, Canadians & American’s getting the day off too?  Haven’t most of Ireland’s many emigrants dispersed to our far flung shores to set up residency during the last 150 years?    
It would certainly save all those excuses as to why you can’t make it in to work, while all along you’re downing pints of the black stuff & singing with the band as they belt out ‘Dirty Ole Town’ down at the local Irish Pub!

Interestingly, St Patrick’s Day also falls during the 40 days of Lent.   However, it seems that as long as the joyous feast of St Patrick falls on the church’s calendar of feasts, Lenten restrictions on eating & drinking alcohol can be lifted to ensure the faithful can celebrate their Saint by dancing, drinking & partaking of the traditional St Paddy’s Day feast of Corned Beef & Cabbage!    When the feast day of St Patrick falls on a day of abstinence from meat however, such as a Friday in Lent, the local Bishop, if you’re lucky, can dispense with the rules for just this one day.
 A St Paddy’s Day without the traditional meat fare or alcohol would be unimaginable to most... particularly the latter?  Power to you, if you can get through St Paddy’s on the dry side!

But, not so long ago [prior to the 1970’s], Irish law enforced that all pubs be closed on St Paddy’s day.  This was a holy day where families attended church & later went for a walk, met up with friends or worked in the garden.... there was no Guinness beer & certainly no green beer!
In fact, it appears the American’s, more noteably the Irish-American’s were the first to observe St Patrick’s Day, not so much for it’s intended religious purpose but to gather those who had immigrated from Ireland to honour their homeland.  In more recent years, this has come to include anyone with just a skerrit of Irish ancestry, to those who just wanted to be Irish for a day.   

St Paddy’s day became a national holiday in 1903, but it wasn’t until 1995 that the Irish government backed the festival as a way to boost tourism.  Well, it’s worked.  And I for one will be there in Dublin, 17th March, wearing green & doing my best to acquire a taste for the black stuff.

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