Celebrated not only in Ireland, but also across English-speaking countries, marked by the colour green 'splashed' all around and a jolly atmosphere, Saint Patrick's Day is a much loved, Christian turned secular festivity. What makes St.Patrick's Day so attractive? What draws thousands of people to Dublin every March? Sure, it is the cheerful atmosphere, countless pints of beer and the perfect opportunity to savour the 'Irishness'. Embracing the cheer and sheer joy is fine. But little does one know about the man who is so widely celebrated on this day. Without any intention to demystify this glorious holiday and its inadvertent founder, today we are looking into some facts and figures wrapped around Saint Patrick's Day.
And now for some history.
A long time ago, there was a man of aristocratic origin, born to a wealthy, Christian family in Roman Britain. Quite used to living as a well-off man, served by servants and enjoying the life only the nobility could afford back in the day, his world turned upside down after he was kidnapped and taken to the cold, murky fields and forests of Ireland. As St. Patrick wrote himself in his book The Confession, this hardship resulted in his accepting Christianity with all his soul. Several years into the captivity, he found a way to escape to Britain on a pirate ship. However, his family reunion did not last long. Several years later, acting upon a vision, Patrick went back to Ireland as an ordained priest with one main goal in mind - to convert Irish to Christianity. The cost of his mission and devotion was high - he got beaten, rebuked and harassed throughout his missionary life in Ireland.One of the illustrative ways he used to bring the concept of the Holy Trinity closer to the folk included a shamrock. This is why this three-leafed plant has grown to be a widely accepted symbol of Saint Patrick's Day and Ireland. As in conversions elsewhere, it was the very pagan symbols that priests and monks used as a means of proselytism to gain people's interest. Therefore, it is no surprise that shamrock had been a sacred plant for Irish Druids long before Christianity was introduced on the island. Shamrock's three leaves correspond to the mystical number three in the Celtic religion, while the green colour suggests rebirth and life. Saint Patrick's Day taking place in March may not be only a mere chance as it coincides with the spring equinox, which has also served as a kind of background platform for Easter.
Another popular symbol related to St.Patrick are snakes. Why them?
The absence of snakes in Ireland has fed a legend that St. Patrick drove them during his 40-day fast on the hill. This heavily Biblical account draws on Christian themes (isolation during the fast, Moses dealing with a snake) found in the Bible. Metaphorically speaking, snakes are also believed to be a symbol pagan beliefs, which were banished from Ireland with his help.St. Patrick's Day wasn't widely celebrated until the 1960's in the USA. Up to that point it was only a minor religious holiday, celebrated by Irish charities or, formerly, soldiers. This holiday, as we know it now, was revived by Irish emigrants in the USA, who promoted it as part of their national identity and culture. In 1962 Chicago saw a spectacular moment happen - on the day of Saint Patrick the whole river was dyed bright green! The trend caught on quite fast and celebrations of Saint Patrick's Day, along with the predominant green colour, lots of beer and songs, came to be both affirmation and celebration of the Irish ethnic identity.It is still not too late to consider visiting Dublin
on the 17th of March. Be part of the big celebration, become Irish for a day and let the fascinating energy of the place fully absorb you!