A Unique Irish Experience: Saint Patrick’s Day – By Valentina Coppola


Have you ever heard about Saint Patrick’s Day?
Well, it’s a unique, fun, and interesting experience that you need to have one day in your life. You can’t miss it!
A bit of history…

Every year, on the 17th of March, in Dublin, the capital city of the beautiful Island of Ireland, people celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, a religious and cultural holiday, in honour of the patron Saint, who ministered Christianity during the fifth century. When he was 16, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates, who sold him  as a slave to the king of the North Dal Riata, in modern Northern Ireland. Luckily, he learnt the Gaelic language and Celtic religion. After six years he ran away  from the king’s court and  became a bishop. Pope Celestine entrusted him the evangelization of the British Isles and in 431-432 he began his apostolate in Ireland (at that time Irish lands were almost pagan). From his work as a preacher came the power of Celtic Christianity, which combines Christian and pagan elements. He is credited as the introduction of the solar symbol of the cross on the Latin cross, which gave birth to the Celtic cross, a symbol of Celtic Christianity.  At the beginning of the seventeenth century the historian and Franciscan friar, Luke Wadding, put the celebration in the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church. It says Saint Patrick used a shamrock as a metaphor for the Trinity : Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
For the Druids, shamrock was a sacred plant, as considered curative and according to the ancient numerology, the three leaves had its mystical powers and warning. During the nineteenth century, the shamrock became a symbol of the social class of peasants and rebellions against the British crown. In this period, getting dressed in green or having a green clover on the military uniform were considered deadly crimes and hence the strong link between the colour green and Irish national pride, called “The Wearing of the Green”.
Today it’s really funny to walk along Dublin’s streets and see all people wearing green t-shirts, pants, and hats. They use to  bring a shamrock with them, which represents Ireland and the spring and paint their faces and hair. Another Irish symbol is the “Leprechaun”, the elf. The night between the 16th and the 17th, people used to put a glass of milk on the windowsill for him. It’s an old tradition. Irish green style is just irresistible!
Adults can enjoy a pint (surely more than one) of beer at a local pub. They usually eat food such as pink bacon or savory roast chicken.
The parade, which takes place in Parnell Square, in the morning, is  really  amazing and much appreciated. The Leuprechan mask opens the show: a mix of colours, floats, street theater groups, artists, dancers, and musical bands from Ireland and around the world “populate” the street. People come from everywhere to see it: It’s a magical show!
 You can walk all night, drink, dance, and meet people in the streets. It’s normal to stop a girl or a boy in the street and say,“Hi, I am from Italy, nice to meet you”. Pubs are full of people, who drink, talk, and listen to live music.
Four days after (the celebration starts on the 16th), the city is still full of people, who visited the Saint Patrick Cathedral, the most beautiful places of Dublin, bought souvenirs and enjoyed their Irish trip.
In Cork and Limerick, people organize something like Dublin.
Do you know it is also celebrated in the USA and Canada? Well, these countries are greatly influenced by the Irish culture. A little curiosity: In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, the Americans dye the Chicago River green as a local custom. Also, in Italy, in the city of Bobbio, people celebrate it (because there was a bond between the abbey, the holy abbot Irish Saint Columbanus, and the land of Ireland).
Last March, in Milan, “San Patrizio Milano Festival” was organized. In Bologna and Roma, people tasted a typical Irish meal and the Guinness Beer and listened to traditional Irish songs in the old tram of ATAC. Yes, in the tram! What an original idea!
And now aren’t you excited about enjoying Saint Patrick’s Day? You can book a cheap flight and a room in a hostel for next March, and enjoy this beautiful Irish experience! And of course, don’t forget to bring something green with you.
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