March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

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Saint Patrick’s Day (Irish: Lá ’le Pádraig or Lá Fhéile Pádraig), colloquially Paddy’s Day or St. Patty’s Day, is the feast day which annually celebrates Saint Patrick (373-493), the patron saint of Ireland, on March 17. It is the Irish national holiday and one of the public holidays in the Republic of Ireland (a bank holiday in Northern Ireland); the overseas territory of Montserrat; and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. In the United States, Australia, and rest of Canada it is widely celebrated, although not an official holiday. It became a feast day in the universal church due to the influence of the Waterford-born Franciscan scholar Luke Wadding, as a member of the commission for the reform of the Breviary [1] in the early part of the 17th century. A common practice among gardeners is to plant at least one potato, no matter how cold the weather, on St. Patrick’s Day. This is done in order to ensure a good harvest for the coming year. Some speculate that this may have arisen from the Irish Potato Famine. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated worldwide by Irish people and increasingly by many of non-Irish descent (Usually in the US and Ireland) hence the phrase "Every one is Irish on St.Patricks day". Celebrations are generally themed around all things green and Irish; both Christians and non-Christians celebrate the secular version of the holiday by wearing green, eating Irish food, imbibing Irish drink, and attending parades. The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin, Ireland is part of a five-day festival, over 500,000 people attended the 2006 parade. The largest St. Patrick’s Day parade is held in New York City and it is watched by 2 million spectators. The St. Patrick’s day parade was first held in Boston in 1737, organized by the Charitable Irish Society. New York’s celebration began on 17 March 1766 when Irish soldiers marched through the city. Ireland’s cities all hold their own parades and festivals. These cities include Dublin, Cork, Belfast, Derry, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick and Waterford. Parades also take place in other Irish towns and villages. Other large parades include those in Savannah, Georgia (the second largest in the United States and largest per capita), Dallas,Cleveland, Manchester, Birmingham, London, Coatbridge, Montreal (the longest continually running St. Patrick’s Day parade, celebrating its 183rd consecutive parade in 2007), Boston, Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Denver, Sacramento, Scranton, Detroit, Toronto, Vancouver, Syracuse, New York (the largest parade in the United States) and throughout most of the world. The parade held in Sydney, Australia is recorded as being the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. As well as being a celebration of Irish culture, Saint Patrick’s Day is a Christian festival celebrated in the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland and some other denominations. The day always falls in the season of Lent. In church calendars (though rarely in secular ones) Saint Patrick’s Day is moved to the following Monday when it falls on a Sunday. It is traditional for those observing a lenten fast to break it for the duration of Saint Patrick’s Day whenever March 17 falls on a Friday. In many parts of North America, Britain, and Australia expatriate Irish, those of Irish descent, and ever-growing crowds of people with no Irish connections but who may proclaim themselves "Irish for a day" also celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, usually by drinking larger amounts of alcoholic beverages(lager dyed green, Irish beer and stout, such as Murphys, Smithwicks, Harp or Guinness, or Irish whiskey, Irish cider, Irish coffee, or Baileys Irish Cream) than they probably would normally, and by wearing at least one article of green-coloured clothing.


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