Aunt Louise and Uncle Bob – St. Patrick’s Day

Dear Uncle Bob and Aunt Louise: I came to study in the US last fall, and I have learned a lot about your country. There were interesting fall events – your Thanksgiving is awesome! – and there were such a variety of traditions during the various December holidays. Now it is spring and it looks as if there will be more events, holidays and traditions for me to learn about and experience. So tell me about St. Patrick’s Day!

Uncle Bob: March 17th honors St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.  That brings up the question of just who was St. Patrick?  Louise, can you help me out here?

Aunt Louise: Of Course, Bob. St. Patrick is very popular in Ireland, even though not too much is known about him. Some of what we hear about St. Patrick comes about because Irish folks love to spin exaggerated tales. The age-old legend is that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland, but this is probably just a tall tale. We do know St. Patrick was born in Britain, captured by raiders and taken to Ireland when he was 16. As a captive, he led a lonely life as a shepherd for 6 years, and became a devout Christian. St. Pat was ordained as a priest to minister to Christians in Ireland and to convert the Irish, who were then mostly pagans, to Christianity. St. Patrick created the famous Celtic Cross, putting the sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the traditional Christian cross so that the result would seem more appealing to the Irish.

Uncle Bob: So, when was he canonized to become a Saint?

Aunt Louise: Never! Saint Patrick was never canonized by the Catholic Church. Nonetheless, many people and churches throughout the world see him as a saint for his missionary work. He died on March 17, 460 AD. The date of his death is called Saint Patrick’s Day in his honor.

Uncle Bob: A life well lived, especially since he is celebrated 1400 years later! But I think perhaps the celebrations have evolved over time…

Aunt Louise: Indeed! Irish families have celebrated the feast of St Patrick as a religious holiday for years—during the Christian season of Lent, (more on that soon) this allowed a celebratory day of dancing, drinking and feasting on meat. That is why corned beef (with cabbage) is traditional dinner on March 17th. That religious feast day has evolved into a variety of festivals. Today Irish culture is celebrated with parades, special foods, music, dancing, and of course, wearing the color green.

Uncle Bob: It’s a whole day of green! Chicago, Illinois dyes the Chicago River green! Savannah, Georgia dyes the water in all of their lovely fountains green. And there will be green beer in the pubs and bars!

Aunt Louise: Our students just need to remember to drink that green beer legally (you have to be at least 21 years old) and responsibly (so that a good time does not lead to tragedy).

Uncle Bob: Our student readers come from countries around the globe, but no matter where they are from they need to know that in America for that one day of March 17th, everyone is Irish! So until next time, here’s an Irish toast…

May your blessings outnumber

The shamrocks that grow,

And may trouble avoid you

Wherever you go.

See the source imageImage result for shamrock clip art

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