Going Green for the Day – Lá Fhéile Pádraig shona daoibh

Tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day, and we all know what that means.

Well, actually, we don’t. Ask people about the correct way to celebrate the holiday and you’ll probably hear about something that sounds like forty comedians and a troupe of strippers having a riot in a brewery, possibly with the words “beer”, “fiddle-de-dee” and “potatoes” thrown in for good measure. So, in the interest of promoting cross-cultural understanding and not having to hear anyone say “fiddle-de-dee potatoes” at me – a phrase about as Irish as saying Fosters is the Australian for beer, by the way – here’s a quick guide.

Not as fast paced as Shore Thing, but a better read.St Patrick’s Day occurs on March 17th and is the Irish national day. It’s believed to have celebrated by the Irish since the ninth century. The real Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, would probably be somewhat bemused by all this mentioning of green and beer and potatoes. The original colour associated with him was blue and the only written records he left behind him, the Confessio and the Letter to Coroticus, are not filled with either lavish descriptions of tuber-based cuisine nor playing drinking games until 2am.

When he was not driving the snakes out of Ireland – the pleasant way of saying he got rid of the pagans – Patrick was a bit of an old booklover himself who preached piety and learning in equal measure. His influence is partly credited with instilling Ireland with a sense of literacy and learning that encouraged Ireland to become “the isle of saints and scholars”. This is a point of pride for many Irish people – we are, after all, a nation who live in a country where literature and art are exempt from tax so books are GST free – and some have gone so far as to claim we are responsible for keeping libraries and literature alive through the dark ages.

So clever, and modest too!Thomas Cahill’s modestly named, “How The Irish Saved Civilization” describes how Irish monks and scribes copied and preserved the manuscripts of Greek and Latin writers, both pagan and Christian, maintaining the records of Western civilization while Europe was being overrun during the dark ages. He argues they preserved Western culture and allowed it to be reintroduced to the continent when the barbarians finally got bored and buggered off.  So if you are looking for an Irish activity to do on St Patrick’s Day, you could do worse than read a good book.

Quieter activities like reading might suit an Australian take on the day better – St Patrick’s Day isn’t a public holiday over here, so celebrations are usually held on the Sunday closest to it. But make sure you don’t miss out completely because – speaking as an Irishwoman who has done the day in many places – Australia usually throws a great bash. In Sydney, for example, their St Patrick’s Day Parade has passed its thirtieth year and ends with one hell of a party in Hyde Park. Celebrations have been going on in Sydney for as long as there have been Irish here. The first recorded party was in 1810, when a dinner was organised for the convicts under the employ of the governor of the city.

It might have started with a dinner, but it got bigger – and noisier – fast. In 1895, Sydney’s archbishop Cardinal Moran, an Irishman himself, banned the parade because of the “tendency of marchers to gravitate to the pubs afterwards”.  History doesn’t record whether this stopped them going to the pub altogether, or whether with nothing to distract them they just went there earlier in the day. But to the pub all Patrick’s Day celebrations will doubtless go, so be ready to put down your book and have a pint with friends at some stage because the other thing that the day is definately about is community and socialising.

While you are there, please remember that it’s never Patty’s day (that’s a hamburger) or St Pat’s, and that if your beer is green that probably means it has gone off. If you want to celebrate St Patrick’s Day exactly like the Irish, here’s how to do it. Wear a bit of emerald green, have a drink with your friends and a sing-along in the pub. That’s about it.

And, as we say in Irish, Lá ‘le Pádraig sona daoibh go léir – a happy St Patrick’s day to you all.

 

Going Green for the Day – Lá Fhéile Pádraig shona daoibh

Tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day, and we all know what that means.

Well, actually, we don’t. Ask people about the correct way to celebrate the holiday and you’ll probably hear about something that sounds like a riot in a brewery, possibly with the words “beer”, “fiddle-de-dee” and “potatoes” thrown in for good measure. So, in the interest of promoting cross-cultural understanding and not having to hear anyone say fiddle-de-dee potatoes at me – a phrase as Irish as saying Fosters is the Australian for beer, by the way, here’s a quick guide.

St Patrick’s Day is March 17th is the Irish national day believed to have celebrated by the Irish since the ninth centuries. The real Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, would probably be somewhat bemused by all this mentioning of beer and potatoes. The only written records he left behind him were two texts, the Confessio and the Letter to Coroticus, neither of which are known for their description of nights on the lash.

When he was not driving the snakes out of Ireland – the pleasant way of saying he got rid of the pagans – Patrick was a bit of an old booklover himself. His influence is partly credited with instilling Ireland with a sense of literacy and learning that encouraged Ireland to become “the isle of saints and scholars”. This is a point of pride for many Irish people – we are, after all, a nation who live in a country where literature and art are exempt from tax so books are GST free – and some have gone so far as to claim we are responsible for keeping libraries and literature alive through the dark ages.

Thomas Cahill’s modestly named, “How The Irish Saved Civilization” describes how Irish monks and scribes copied and preserved the manuscripts of Greek and Latin writers, both pagan and Christian, maintaining the records of Western civilization while Europe was being overrun during the dark ages. He argues they preserved Western culture and allowed it to be reintroduced to the continent when the barbarians finally got bored and buggered off. So if you are looking for an Irish activity to do on St Patrick’s Day, you could do worse than read a good book.

http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Real-St-Patrick/James-McCormack-CM/book_9781856076074.htm

Quieter activities like reading might suit an Australian take on the day better – St Patrick’s Day isn’t a public holiday over here, so celebrations are usually held on the Sunday closest to it. But make sure you don’t miss out completely because – speaking as an Irishwoman who has done the day in many places – Australia usually throws a great bash. In Sydney, for example, their St Patrick’s Day Parade has passed its thirtieth year and ends with one hell of a party in Hyde Park. Celebrations have been going on in Sydney for as long as there have been Irish here. The first recorded party was in 1810, when a dinner was organised for the convicts under the employ of the governor of the city.

It might have started with a dinner, but it got bigger. A lot bigger. In 1895, Sydney’s archbishop Cardinal Moran, an Irishman himself, banned the parade because of the “tendency of marchers to gravitate to the pubs afterwards”. History doesn’t record whether this stopped them going to the pub altogether, or whether with nothing to distract them they just went there earlier in the day. But to the pub all Patrick’s Day celebrations will doubtless go, so be ready to put down your book and have a pint with friends at some stage.

While you are there, please remember that it’s never Patty’s day (that’s a hamburger) and that ordering an Irish Car Bomb is a) something most irish people have never heard of, b) a terrible thing to do perfectly good beer and c) a phrase that would get you punched in Ireland for the sheer offensiveness of it.

So, if you want to celebrate St Patrick’s Day like the Irish, here’s how to do it. Wear a bit of green, have a drink with your friends and a sing-along in the pub. That’s about it.

And, as we say in Irish, Lá Fhéile Pádraig shona daoibh – happy St patrick’s day to you all.

http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/How-the-Irish-Saved-Civilisation/Thomas-Cahill/book_9780385418492.htm

http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Yeats-is-Dead/Joseph-OConnor/book_9780099422341.htm

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Sadhbh Warren

Sadhbh Warren is a freelance writer and proud booklover. Her name is pronounced Sive - like five – an Irish name, easier to say than spell! She lives in Sydney, writing travel and humour articles, and is always on the lookout for a great new book.

2 thoughts on “Going Green for the Day – Lá Fhéile Pádraig shona daoibh”

  1. I don’t remember a single celebration for St Patrick’s Day but I am reliably informed I’ve always had fun 🙂

    My maternal grandparents and their many brothers and sisters all came to Oz from Ireland…for many years it was my job (as youngest grandchild I had no one left to delegate to) to go to the Irish club and pick up assorted sozzled relatives, but sadly there’s no one left from that generation now…and us youngsters just don’t have the same stamina (the year before last we were home in bed by 10:00 and last year we didn’t go at all, though we did pop down to the local for a beer and a sing-a-long)

  2. I think the Irish start and finish later alright – back home, it’s normal to hit the pub at 10pm and stay out until 2am, but over here my Australian friends usually start bowing out around 11pm.
    Still, it’s called day, not late night so whatever way you enjoy sounds great. Have a good one!

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