Saint Patrick’s Day
Unsurprisingly, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival. Festivities generally involve parades and parties. Everyone celebrating dons green attire, whether it be a hat, belt, shirt, socks, or something more creative. The day itself is a religious and cultural event held on March 17th to commemorate the death in 461 of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.
St. Patrick’s feast-day lands smack in the middle of Lent. Lent is historically known for restrictions on alcohol and other sacrifices, but these restrictions usually are lifted for this saint’s day to properly share in the drinking tradition of the holiday. These days the celebrations among the Irish diaspora are bigger than those in Ireland itself.
Many wear a shamrock, a three-leaved plant that St. Patrick used to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish. In some places, there is the custom of “drowning the shamrock,” which entails putting a shamrock on the bottom of a cup, filling it with a libation, and toasting to Saint Patrick and all present. The shamrock is either swallowed as the cup is emptied or tossed over the shoulder for good luck.
While St. Patrick’s day is a good day to celebrate “Irishness” and Irish heritage, it’s also important to remember to do it with disciplined moderation. One can still partake in the happy-go-lucky joys of the day. Yet with an eye toward temperance, one can forgo potentially adverse after-effects the following morning like a throbbing head or a stay in the local hoosegow.
Patrick J. Wood