Friday March 15, 2013
St.Patrick's day - A very green occasion
Byline - T.AVINESHWARAN
This famed festival is celebrated by the people in Ireland but now, many people from other countries are beginning to embrace the Irish celebration.
Why should you never iron a 4-leaf clover? You don’t want to press your luck – Daryl Stout
ST.PATRICK’S day is a festival that was traditionally savoured by people of Irish heritage but it does seems like by the 21st century, everybody around the world has embraced the festival.
Drinking till the wee hours and dancing to Irish folk songs, St.Patrick’s day is becoming synonymous to festival revelers around the world.
However, when asked about the significance of the festival, many do not know the history behind it and why it is being celebrated?
“We really don’t celebrate it on a big scale but it’s like a national drinking holiday and I’m sure a lot of people are going to call in sick this Monday after partying it up till Sunday,”
“As for Ireland, I’ve never been there but I’m sure it would be something similar to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.” said John Quinn, an American of Irish descent who is based in Texas.
According to Kimberly Ho, a Malaysian based in San Francisco, it’s not a legal holiday but people celebrate it through parties and there are parades in certain cities, particularly Boston and New York.
So, what is St.Patrick’s day and how did it all start? Here is a brief explanation of the day and festival itself.
Roots of St.Patrick’s Day
St.Patrick’s day is celebrated on March 17. In Ireland, the festivities start on March 13 itself as people would fast and go to churches for prayers.
On the penultimate day, people would normally have their religious feast and pay tribute to St.Patrick.
Who is St.Patrick? St.Patrick is patron saint and national apostle of Ireland who lived during the fifth century.
As a teenager, he endured lots of hardships. Born in Roman Britain, he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland to work as a slave.
Already spiritual during his younger days, according to his confession, he was told by God in a dream to flee from the captivity to the coast where he would board a ship back to Britain.
Having escaped from harsh conditions, he decided to become a priest and enrolled himself in the Church of Auxerre, Gaul. (Auxerre is part of France now).
He returned to Ireland in 432 to spread the Christianity faith. According to Irish folklore, one of St.Patrick’s teaching methods was to use the three-cloved Shamrock as an example. He uses the Shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity (the father, the son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit).
He was also known to drive away snakes from Ireland as they are related to the old Pagan religion that promotes serpent symbol and worship.
After years teaching the faith and changing the lives of Irish people, St.Patrick passed away on March 17, 461.
To commemorate his efforts of St.Patrick, the Irish people celebrate his anniversary by conducting prayers and cooking religious feast.
Evolution of St.Patrick’s day
As years goes by, the Irish observe the Roman Catholic feast day of St.Patrick on March 17.
The first large scale celebrations held for St.Patrick were not in Ireland but in the United States. The first parade was held in New York in March 17, 1762 when Irish soldiers, serving for the English military marched through the city to commemorate the religious occasion.
In the 20th century, the Republic of Ireland government decided to use St.Patrick’s Day as a means to showcase Ireland and its culture.
According to legend, when St.Patrick’s Day was first celebrated, the colour associated with the day was blue. Over the years, the colour green was used, although there is no explanation as to what perpetuated this change.
In the late 90s, annual parades became a festival as people danced all day long and quenched their thirst by having the finest stouts in the region.
Before March 17, in 2009, it became a five-day festival as it saw more than 1 million visitors converging at Dublin to celebrate the day.
Since then, it remained as a five-day festival and lots of Irish people and also tourist from other countries would get together and take part in concerts, outdoor theatre performances and fireworks – Not to forget, the booze!
St.Patrick’s day is also celebrated in other parts of the world and in the United States, though it’s not a legal holiday, its widely recognized and celebrated around the country.
Rather than commemorating the efforts of St.Patrick, Americans with Irish descent observe it as a celebration of Irish tradition and Irish American culture.
St.Patrick’s in Malaysia
In Malaysia, the moment you see pubs and clubs draped in green, that’s where the St.Patrick’s Day euphoria starts.
You can see Malaysians wearing green outfits, dancing to tunes of Irish folk songs and the best part of all – consuming the famous Irish stout.
Sara Michelle, 24, has been to many festivals but somehow St.Patrick’s Day attracts her the most due to its Irish traits and also her affinity towards her favourite colour –green.
“Listening to songs like Finnegan’s wake and Danny Boy reminds me of my trips to Ireland and whenever I go to Pubs in Kuala Lumpur, these songs evokes great memories for me,” she said
For others, it’s a welcome respite after a long and busy working week.
“It’s the best time for me to let loose and socialize with others during this day. I attended the St.Patrick’s festival in Changkat, Bukit Bintang last year and had lots of fun,” said 23-year-old William Choi.
There is an Irish saying - There are only two kinds of people in the world, The Irish and those who wish they were.
For a day, many Malaysian would surely revel in the Irish culture and embrace the beauty of it.
To cap it off, here is an Irish toast for the Malaysians celebrating St.Patrick’s Day.
Here’s to a long life and a merry one.
A quick death and an easy one
A pretty girl and an honest one
A cold beer – and another one!