March 2, 2011
Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day!
When I was a child I enjoyed searching for rare four leaf shamrocks. My grandmother always told me that if I could found one it would give me good luck! Sometimes I find one inside my children books very dry and yelowish! She also told me that each leaf has a different meaning: faith, happiness, love and hope. When she was young she worked in agriculture and she knew lots of stories about plants. I don't think she ever heard about tradition in Ireland. She never spoke me about Ireland! Back then I did not know that shamrocks are a symbol for Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day. Irish people traditionally wear a small bunch of shamrocks on their jackets or caps on this day. There’s an Irish legend that stipulates that St. Patrick used the three leaves shamrock to illustrate the concept of the Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) when trying to convert pagans to Christianity. She never spoke me about leprechauns neither! Little unpleasant and lonely old man dressed as a shoe maker with a hat?! Nahh! They work for Fairies and gather golden coins in a pot! They are also a symbol for Irish. In addition to all this there’s the color green. Green is the color of Nature in spring and shamrocks. Ireland is also called an Emerald because green is a constant presence in the country. Several revolutionary groups adopted this color for flags and today it appears on the official tri-color (plus white and orange) Irish flag.
St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years. In Dublin and Limerick there are huge celebrations. But in USA parades are also a big tradition. The first one was held there when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York. The sound of bagpipes and drums become popular. Irish immigrants were not very well accepted in America when they travelled there to escape poverty in the mid 19th century. St. Patrick’s Day parades were a moment to unite and show their power. Today St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in USA, Australia and Canada. More than 100 St. Patrick's Day parades are held across the United States. New York City and Boston host the biggest celebrations. In Chicago the river is dyed green for some hours! Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional St. Patrick's Day dish. I suppose Irish drink beer to go along with it. Although Portugal is a traditional wine producer I do appreciate beer too! We don’t celebrate the occasion in Portugal. But I have some Irish records in my collection: The Pogues, The Dubliners and Luke Kelly. I guess I can cook some corned beef…and get a black Guiness to drink! And get a few shamrocks from the garden! What’s missing, a green t-shirt maybe?! Can you help me pick the right St.Patrick's Day T-shirt for me?
Go to this link to get a taste of St. Patrick’s celebration in Ireland. The Festival featuring parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions and fireworks shows is really something big!