Monday, March 16, 2009

Interesting Facts about St Patricks Day

Tomorrow is my first day in Northern Ireland on St Patrick's Day. I have celebrated it in the USA and South Africa.

I am going to Down Patrick where it is believed that St. Patrick was buried. This is a secular celebration for me.

The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place in New York in 1762.

More than 1,500 years after St. Patrick's death, this almost-international holiday has morphed into a celebration of all things Irish.

Green is associated with St. Patrick's Day because it is the color of Spring. Traditionally, those who are caught not wearing green are pinched.

St. Patrick's Day used to a solemn religious day with drinking. It has since been secularized but some people to do go to special church services. O'Faolain remembers more somber -- and sober -- celebrations of Ireland's patron saint."The only place you could get a drink was at the annual dog show," recalls O'Faolain, chuckling. "Thousands of people would head for the old Royal Dublin Showground out in Ballsbridge."That's because, until the late '70s, all the pubs in Ireland closed on St. Patrick's Day. It was one of three holy days (the others being Christmas and Good Friday) on the Catholic calendar that shuttered the public houses of Ireland. It is also commemorated by the Church of Ireland.

When in the springtime of the year
When the trees are crowned with leaves
When the ash and oak, and the birch and yew
Are dressed in ribbons fair

When owls call the breathless moon
In the blue veil of the night
The shadows of the trees appear
Amidst the lantern light

We've been rambling all the night
And some time of this day
Now returning back again
We bring a garland gay

Who will go down to those shady groves
And summon the shadows there
And tie a ribbon on those sheltering arms
In the springtime of the year

The songs of birds seem to fill the wood
That when the fiddler plays
All their voices can be heard
Long past their woodland days

And so they linked their hands and danced
Round in circles and in rows
And so the journey of the night descends
When all the shades are gone

"A garland gay we bring you here
And at your door we stand
It is a sprout well budded out
The work of our Lord's hand"
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