St Patrick's Day: Painting the World Green

World | March 17, 2010, Wednesday // 12:26|  views

St Patrick's Day is celebrated by the Irish at home and abroad on March 17, in honor of their patron saint. Photo by BGNES

St Patrick's Day, the national day of the Irish, both at home and worldwide, is being celebrated on Wednesday.

The holiday began as a purely religious celebration to mark the death of Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The holy man was born into an ecclesiastical family in Roman Britain in the late fourth century.

Legend has it that, at the age of 16, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken to the west coast of Ireland as a slave. Told in a dream by God to escape, he made his way to Auxerre (in present-day France) where he entered the Church, studying to become a priest.

Years later, and by then a bishop, Patrick returned to Ireland to preach and convert the local people to Christianity. He taught in Ireland for the next 30 years until his death on March 17, 461 AD. To explain the concept of the Holy Trinity, he used the three-leaved shamrock, a symbol associated with him and with Ireland ever since.

The wearing of a shamrock may have given rise to the phrase "the wearing of the green", with its long associations with Irish national identity and loyalty to the Catholic Church. Green ribbons and shamrocks have been worn on this holiday since at least the 17th century.

Today's celebrations around the world take many forms, among them colourful street parades. The New York parade is the largest, typically drawing two million spectators and 150,000 marchers. The tradition apparently began in Boston, back in 1761. The Chicago River is dyed green for the day.

Ireland's cities all hold their own parades and festivals, including Dublin, Cork, Belfast, Derry, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, and Waterford. The St. Patrick's Day parade in Dublin is part of an annual five-day festival.

The staff of are happy to congratulate the Irish on their national day, from expats working or living in Bulgaria, to the whole of Ireland and Irish communities worldwide. We wish you all a memorable, green day!

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Tags: St Patrick, ireland, irish, New York, Chicago, Dublin, Cork, Belfast, National Day


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