“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to one and all who celebrate these things.
Grab a glass of your green beer and find out a few facts about St. Patrick that you may find interesting and a little surprising.
Let’s start with this fact,
Saint Patrick wasn’t Irish
and he wasn’t born in Ireland.
Although he is remembered for introducing
Christianity to Ireland in the year 432, Patrick was
born to Roman parents in Scotland or Wales in
the late fourth century (about 385 AD)
so actually he’s British!
And while we are doing a bit of myth-busting,
you might as well also know that the
Shamrock is not the symbol of Ireland.
It is a popular Irish symbol,
but the symbol of Ireland is the Harp.
As early as the medieval period, the harp appeared
on Irish gravestones and manuscripts and was
popular in Irish legend and culture well before that.
King Henry VIII used the harp on coins as early as 1534.
Later, it was used on Irish flags and Irish coats of arms.
Starting in 1642 the harp also appeared on flags
during rebellions against English rule and when
Ireland became an independent country in 1921,
it adopted the harp as the national symbol.
Although today many people claim that
the shamrock represents faith, hope, and love,
or any number of other things,
it was actually used by Patrick to teach
the mystery of the Holy Trinity,
and how three things,
the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit
could be separate entities, yet one in the same.
Obviously, the pagan rulers of Ireland found
Patrick to be convincing because they
quickly converted to Christianity.
Patrick’s first introduction to the Irish was not a pleasant one.
At the age of 16, he had the misfortune of
being kidnapped by Irish raiders who took him away
and sold him as a slave.
He spent several years in Ireland herding sheep
and learning about the people there.
At the age of 22, he managed to escape and
made his way to a monastery in England where
he spent 12 years growing closer to God.
The original color associated with St. Patrick is blue,
not green as commonly believed.
In several artworks depicting the saint,
he is shown wearing blue vestments.
King Henry VIII used the Irish harp in gold
on a blue flag to represent the country.
Since that time, and possibly before,
blue has been a popular color to represent
the country on flags, coats-of-arms,
and even sports jerseys.
Ireland’s association with the color green
came later, presumably because of the greenness
of the countryside, caused by endless rainfall.
Today, the country is also referred to as the “Emerald Isle.”
The St. Patrick‘s Day parade was invented
in the United States, not Ireland.
On March 17, 1762, Irish soldiers serving in the British army
marched through New York City, the parade and accompanying
music helping the soldiers celebrate their Irish roots,
as well as reconnect with fellow Irishmen
serving in the British army.
In 1848, several New York Irish Aid societies united
their parades to form one official New York City
St. Patrick’s Day Parade which has become one of the
largest St Patrick’s parades with about 200,000
participants and 3 million onlookers.
It is also the oldest civilian parade in the United States.
Only the City of Boston rivals it.
By contrast, the world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day
parade is in Dripsey, Cork, where the
parade lasts just 100 yards and
travels between the village’s two pubs.
And only the Irish know why this parade goes from
one pub to the other because until 1970 St. Patrick’s
was what was known as a dry holiday in Ireland,
meaning that all pubs were shut down for the day.
The law was overturned in 1970, when St. Patrick’s
was reclassified as a national holiday
– cheers to that!
In the United States during the mid 19th century,
the Roman Catholic Irish faced discrimination
much like that faced by African Americans.
Unlike the Protestant Irish who quickly assimilated
into their new country and became Americans,
(their descendants now number many millions in the USA),
the Roman Catholic Irish clung to their religion and culture
and were perceived as a potentially disloyal.
To combat this, they began to organize themselves politically
and by the end of the 19th century, St. Patrick’s Day was
a large holiday for the Roman Catholic Irish and an occasion
for them to demonstrate their collective political and social might.
In more recent times the political emphasis has faded along with
the discrimination, and the holiday has now become popular as an
opportunity for festivity regardless of one’s cultural background.
The New York and Boston St. Patrick’s Day celebrations
may well be impressive in their own right,
but they have a rival.
St Patrick’s Day has twice been celebrated in space.
In 2011, the International Space Station hosted
a St. Paddy’s Day celebration with Irish-American
astronaut Catherine Coleman playing a hundred-year-old flute
and a tin whistle belonging to members
of the Irish group, the Chieftains,
while floating weightlessly in space.
Coleman’s performance was included in a track entitled
”The Chieftains In Orbit” on the group’s album, ‘Voice of Ages’.
And in 2013, astronaut, Chris Hadfield, celebrated
St Patrick’s Day by photographing Ireland from
space while singing Danny Boy.