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Sunday 17th, March 2024

St. Patricks Day

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St. Patricks Day Celebration with St. Paul, MNWikipedia

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St Patrick's Day

Saint Patrick's Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick, is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (c. 385 – c. 461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

Saint Patrick's Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion (especially the Church of Ireland), the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, céilithe, and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Christians who belong to liturgical denominations also attend church services and historically the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol were lifted for the day, which has encouraged and propagated the holiday's tradition of alcohol consumption

Wearing Green

On Saint Patrick's Day, it is customary to wear shamrocks, green clothing or accessories. Saint Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish.This story first appears in writing in 1726, though it may be older. In pagan Ireland, three was a significant number, and the Irish had many triple deities, which may have aided St Patrick in his evangelization efforts. Roger Homan writes, "We can perhaps see St Patrick drawing upon the visual concept of the triskele when he uses the shamrock to explain the Trinity." Patricia Monaghan says there is no evidence the shamrock was sacred to the pagan Irish. Jack Santino speculates that it may have represented the regenerative powers of nature and was recast in a Christian context‍—‌icons of St Patrick often depict the saint "with a cross in one hand and a sprig of shamrocks in the other".

The first association of the color green with Ireland is from a legend in the 11th century Lebor Gabála Érenn. It tells of Goídel Glas (Goídel the green), the eponymous ancestor of the Gaels and creator of the Goidelic languages (Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Manx). Goídel is bitten by a venomous snake but saved from death by Moses placing his staff on the snakebite, leaving him with a green mark. His descendants settled in Ireland, a land free of snakes. One of these, Íth, climbs the Tower of Hercules and is so captivated by the sight of a beautiful green island in the distance that he must set sail immediately.

The color green was further associated with Ireland from the 1640s when the Irish Catholic Confederation used the green harp flag. Later, James Connolly described this flag as representing "the sacred emblem of Ireland's unconquered soul." Green ribbons and shamrocks have been worn on St Patrick's Day since at least the 1680s. Since then, the color green and its association with St Patrick's Day have grown. The Friendly Brothers of St Patrick, an Irish fraternity founded in about 1750, adopted green as its color. The Order of St Patrick, an Anglo-Irish chivalric order founded in 1783, instead adopted blue as its color, which led to blue being associated with St Patrick. In the 1790s, the color green was adopted by the United Irishmen. This was a republican organization—led mostly by Protestants but with many Catholic members—who launched a rebellion in 1798 against British rule. Ireland was first called "the Emerald Isle" in "When Erin First Rose" (1795), a poem by a co-founder of the United Irishmen, William Drennan, which stresses the historical importance of green to the Irish. The phrase "wearing of the green" comes from a song of the same name about United Irishmen being persecuted for wearing green. The flags of the 1916 Easter Rising featured green, such as the Starry Plough banner and the Proclamation Flag of the Irish Republic. When the Irish Free State was founded in 1922, the government ordered all post boxes be painted green, under the slogan "green paint for a green people"; in 1924, the government introduced a green Irish passport.

The wearing of the 'St Patrick's Day Cross' was also a popular custom in Ireland until the early 20th century. These were a Celtic Christian cross made of paper "covered with silk or ribbon of different colors, and a bunch or rosette of green silk in the center.

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