I’m sure most of the Western readers will have at the very least heard of St Patrick’s Day. It’s known for being a night of drunken revelry and mayhem, in the best kind of way. It’s a time when friends and family come together to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland: St Patrick.
And this raucous, crazy day happens to be today. So for all you drinkers, prepare your livers, and all you sober folks, prepare some noise-cancelling headphones. You’re likely to need it in a lot of places tonight.
But, why the hell do we do this? What is it that people are actually celebrating?
Well, it’s St Paddy!
He was born in Roman Britain, around the 4th Century, but at the age of sixteen he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland to be a slave. He escaped, but Ireland had touched his heart, and he returned to convert the Irish to Christianity. He worked hard to build monasteries, churches and schools, and basically became a figure of mysterious and legend. A famous story often told is that he chased the snakes from the land, when masses of them tried to attack him while he was holding a 40-day fast. Ever since, as I have heard many a time from proud Irish speakers, there has been no hint of a snake in Ireland.
The stories say he died on the 17th March, and was buried at Downpatrick, in Northern Ireland. After his death the legends grew and stories spread, and he was eventually accepted as the patron saint of Ireland.
Now, he has come to symbolise everything Irish. He is a figure of the nation, a rallying point for all Irish across the world. Even in the International Space Station there are reports of astronauts celebrating St Patrick’s Day.
And why not? It warms the heart to see people coming together to celebrate their heritage, and they throw one hell of a party for it.
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