Around the world monuments from the Empire State Building, New York, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the London Eye, Table Mountain, Cape Town, the Sydney Opera House and the Eiffel Tower all turned green on Saturday to mark an affinity with the Irish and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
For many politicians it was a good day to get business done with St. Patrick’s Day breakfasts held at many world venues - after all who could say no to a bit of the blarney on St. Patrick’s Day from a real live Irish person complete with history pedigree.
Whilst St. Patrick was not originally from Ireland he did die here in the 5th century, and 17th March, the date of his death, was only made an official feast day in the early 17th century. Since then it has gradually become more of a secular celebration of Irish culture than a feast day to be observed by going to Mass. Up until the 1970s, St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland was a minor religious holiday.
A priest would acknowledge the feast day, and families would celebrate. The modern ‘St. Patrick’s Day’ was invented in America by Irish-Americans satisfying in them a real need to ‘belong’ in the midst of a global melting pot of nations.
Falling somewhere amidst lent, many see St. Patrick’s Day as a break from the fasting.
The shops are full of green adornments and people will flock to pubs and clubs to traditionally ‘drown their shamrock’ (have a drink) on this special day of celebration. Irish linked brands will fare well, since on a normal day 5.5 million pints of Guinness, the famous Irish stout brand, are consumed around the world but on St. Patrick’s Day, that number more than doubles to 13 million pints.
There is profit in identity.
According to legend, Patrick used the three leaves of a shamrock to explain the Christian holy trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and today, St. Patrick’s Day revellers wear a shamrock out of tradition.
It used be plucked from the hedgerows but due to both bad winters and modern farming methods there’s a shortage of shamrock.
This Irish Shamrock Blessing:
Many your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow, perhaps heralds the reason we are in recession, although shamrocks are still plentiful for purchase in shops.
Kathleen Gormley the St Cecilia’s College Principal is filling in for Norman Hamill this week