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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day !! Go Green !!

Pitching on the theory of probability, if i were currently in India and in my busy routine, this blog on this very topic would not have been written. But when you anywhere outside of your matrubhoomi (motherland) and mebbe not as busy in typical Mumbai life, its possible to read up and write more frequently. Today is 17th March and it is St. Patrick's Day, a day celebrated largely in Ireland and United States. This post is a compilation of interesting and fun facts about St. Patrick's Day celebrations world over !!
Saint Patrick
St. Patrick, i dedicate this to you !!

St. Patrick’s Day is observed on March 17 because that is the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. It is believed that he died on March 17 in the year 461 AD. It is also a worldwide celebration of Irish culture and history. St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday in Ireland, and a provincial holiday in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

St. Patrick was not born in Ireland, but in Britain. Irish brigands kidnapped St. Patrick at 16 and brought him to Ireland. He was sold as a slave in the county of Antrim and served in bondage for six years until he escaped to Gaul, in present-day France. He later returned to his parents' home in Britain, where he had a vision that he would preach to the Irish. After 14 years of study, Patrick returned to Ireland, where he built churches and spread the Christian faith for some 30 years.


St. Patrick's Day Parade
The first St. Patrick's Day parade, though, took place not in Ireland, but the United States, when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City in 1762. As the years went on, the parades became a show of unity and strength for persecuted Irish-American immigrants, and then a popular celebration of Irish-American heritage. Dublin, the capital of Ireland, has a huge St. Patrick’s Day festival from March 15-19, that features a parade, family carnivals, treasure hunt, dance, theatre and more. In North America, parades are often held on the Sunday before March 17. There has been a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Boston, Massachusetts since 1737. Montreal is home to Canada’s longest running St. Patrick’s Day parade, which began in 1824.

Americas Ireland
34 million and more Americans have Irish ancestry, according to the 2003 US Census. That’s almost nine times the population of Ireland, which has 4.1 million people. Some American towns have “Irish” names. You could visit: Mount Gay-Shamrock, West Virginia; Shamrock Lakes, Indiana; Shamrock, Oklahoma; Shamrock, Texas; Dublin, California and Dublin, Ohio.


Chicago is famous for a somewhat peculiar annual event: dyeing the Chicago River green. The tradition started in 1962, when city pollution-control workers used dyes to trace illegal sewage discharges and realized that the green dye might provide a unique way to celebrate the holiday. That year, they released 100 pounds of green vegetable dye into the river—enough to keep it green for a week! Today, in order to minimize environmental damage, only 40 pounds of dye are used, making the river green for only several hours.
In Seattle, there is a ceremony where a green stripe is painted down the roads.

Irish Symbols
The harp is the symbol of Ireland. The color green is also commonly associated with Ireland, also known as “the Emerald Isle.”

The Irish flag is green, white and orange. The green symbolizes the people of the south, and orange, the people of the north. White represents the peace that brings them together as a nation.

Shamrock (Clover)
Three is Ireland's magic number and the three petals that make up the shamrock are supposed to bring good luck. The three leaves also represent the Trinity in the Christian religion. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the highest number of leaves found on a clover is 14! One estimate suggests that there are about 10 000 regular three-leaf clovers for every lucky four-leaf clover. Legend says that each leaf of the clover means something: the first is for hope, the second for faith, the third for love and the fourth for luck.

The Leprechauns & Pot of Gold
The leprechaun is a small Irish fairy. He is dressed like a shoemaker, with pointed shoes and hat. He also wears a leather apron. Lephrechauns are supposed to be unfriendly little men who live alone in the forest, spending all of their time making shoes and guarding their treasures. If someone catches a leprechaun, he will be forced to tell where he hides all his pots of gold. However, the leprechaun must be watched at all times. If his captor looks away, the leprechaun will vanish along with his treasure.

Wearing of Green
St. Patrick's favorite color was blue, not green, and the people of Ireland too weren't exactly fond of green - according to them it was the color of the Fairies and Leprechauns and, unless you wanted to forcibly join the ranks of these Wee Folks, you would refrain from sporting that color too often. It wasn't until the 19th Century that Green became the official color of Ireland. Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St Patrick's Day as early as the 17th century.He is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Christian Irish, and the wearing and display of shamrocks and shamrock-inspired designs have become a ubiquitous feature of the day. In Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, people traditionally wear a small bunch of shamrocks on their jackets or caps. Children wear orange, white and green badges, and women and girls wear green ribbons in their hair.

Leap Year
According to legend, wearying of St. Bridget's constant complaints about the traditional social mores requiring women to wait for marriage proposals to come their way or forget about the matter entirely, St. Patrick instituted the practice of allowing women to propose to men on a Leap Year. The reason he didn't make it an every day occurrence can perhaps be gleaned from the fact that on the very next Leap Year he found himself on the receiving end of a proposal from St. Bridget herself. He couldn't withstand the constant complaints, he would have been ploughed down by the constant proposals.

St. Patrick Day Traditional Cuisine
On St. Patrick's Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink and feast—on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage. The top 3 things would be Corned Beef and Cabbage, Irish Stew and Irish Soda Bread with Raisins. Many bars in the United States, and abroad, serve green beer to celebrate St. Patty's Day. The phrase, "Drowning The Shamrock" is from the custom of floating the shamrock on the top of whiskey before drinking it. The Irish believe that if you keep the custom, then you will have a prosperous year.

Irish Receipes:
Corned Beef and Cabbage (video - chk it out!)
http://www.history.com/topics/irish-recipes-st-patricks-day/videos#corned-beef-cabbage

Irish Stew (video - chk it out!)
http://www.history.com/topics/irish-recipes-st-patricks-day/videos#irish-stew
Irish Soda Bread with Raisins
http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/database/irishsodabread_67445.shtml


A little Irish Jig !!
Hearts, Stars, and Horseshoes
Clovers and Blue moons
Pots of gold and rainbows,
And the red balloon
That’s the luck of me lucky charms!
Their magically delicious!



And i sign off this article with one of my favorite Irish Songs, The Galway Girl by Steve Earle, popular in the movie PS. I love you!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVUmlCixFCs

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