The 17th of March is a time to “Go Green!” and to enjoy Celtic music and dancing!
It’s the time to be in Ireland, England and USA! And at any Irish pub!:)
This holiday exists since the 7th century commemorating Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. Nowadays however it has become a lot/ if not mostly/ a celebration of Irish culture in general.
Who is this Saint Patrick?
– He was born in Roman Britain in the 4th century (385), in a Christian (priests) family.
– He was kidnapped and brought somewhere to Ireland at age of 16. Though some time later he escaped.
– Upon his return home, he studied to be a priest.
– In 432 he had a vision\ voice to go back to Ireland, but this time as a bishop. His calling was to Christianise the Irish from their native polytheism.
– He was “bringing light” to Irish pagans for nearly 30 years.
– He died on 17th March 461.
– He “endured as a principal champion of Irish Christianity” and “is held esteem in the Irish church”
– He is one of the Saint patrons of Ireland. Indeed, the most commonly recognized.
Why do they celebrate his death?
– It was a tradition, custom to celebrate the anniversary of saints’ death as to honor their accomplishments & to celebrate their entry to the heaven.
How all this celebration started?
– Actually Saint Patrick’s feast day was celebrated by Irish already in the 9th and 10th centuries.
– Later on he became more and more well-known patron of Ireland, and finally in the early 1600s the feast day was placed on the universal liturgical calendar in the Catholic church (thanks to Luke Wadding)
– This day traditionally is celebrated with dancing, music, eating & drinking (slightly different vs. other saints:) )
– Since 1903 it is an official public holiday in Ireland.
– Traditional St.Patrick’s Day parades actually started in the USA, in 1762:
* Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched throu New York City on 17/03/1762.
* Irish patriotism among American immigrants flourished. And initially newspapers made fun of Irish, making such kind of patriotic parades and parties. But soon it was recognized, that “numbers give power”:) Politicians started attending the parades, as to attract voices..
* In 1848, several Irish Aid societies in New York decided to combine their parades into a single St. Patrick’s Day Parade. This parade is the oldest and the largest civilian parade.
Why Clover (Shamrock)?
– They say that St. Patrick used a clover (shamrock) as a metaphor for the Christian Trinity.
– Since 18th century it started becoming a symbol of Ireland. Shamrock was taken up as an emblem by rival militias, during the turbulent politics in Ireland of the late 18th century.
– Throughout the nineteenth century the popularity of the shamrock as a symbol of Ireland grew, and now we all relate Ireland and St.Patrick’s Day with Shamrock.
Through Erin’s Isle, | To sport awhile,
As Love and Valor wander’d | With Wit, the sprite,
Whose quiver bright | A thousand arrows squander’d.
Where’er they pass, | A triple grass
Shoots up, with dew-drops streaming, | As softly green
As emeralds seen | Through purest crystal gleaming.
Oh the Shamrock, the green immortal Shamrock! |Chosen leaf
Of Bard and Chief, | Old Erin’s native Shamrock! (Thomas Moore)
* in 1685 James II inherited the kingdom of the UK. Everything would be fine, but he happened to be a catholic and not really supportive towards protestantism and protestant’s parliament.. He also managed to overestimate his power against parliament and gave quite some grievance to his non-catholic “friends”. Moreover, in 1688 he got a soon another James, which would mean further Catholization of the royal family and the kingdom.
Finally English politicians contacted William III Henry of Orange (who also had a right to inherit the crown), who definitely had a lot of advantages prior James II: most importantly, he was Protestant. Another good thing about him: he was a stadtholder of main provinces of Dutch republic, had very good connections with Dutch finansists.. He got money to finance the campaign against James II, though in long-term it lead to decline of Dutch republic..
End of 1688 the Glorious revolution happend: James was overthrown and William III became a new king. Protestant.
*A tricky point: Majority of Ireland – Catholics.
– However, at the end of Williamite war which followed the Glorious revolution, Ireland came under rule of Anglican Protestant Ascendancy church, the one very loyal to the crown.
This ruling was characterized by systematic discrimination against Catholics, other than protestant’ religions.
In general, Ireland had a very low position in the UK, having less autonomy and more dependance from the crown even than the British overseas colonies.
– Luckily, less than in 100 years, Irish got a chance to get some power, thanks to the Revolution war in the USA (1775-1783): Because France supported the US in their fight for independence from Britain, there was a need to ensure security of the Kingdom boarders from France. Quite many Irishmen volunteered to Militia to defend their country against France.
And Irish people used an opportunity and demanded for some more rights and more liberties for Ireland. Well, it lead to Irish Rebellion (against Britain) in 1798 (Failed).
While Protestants are connected with Orange colour (William III of Orange), Shamrock, Green colour signified support for the Rebellion.
Green was also the colour of “Society of United Irishmen,” a republican revoluntionary organisation.