Photo: James Jordan on flickr
On March 17, Irish and non-Irish alike celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with much drinking and revelry. But that’s not how the day was originally celebrated.The day of Ireland’s patron saint is actually a religious occasion, and was observed as such since it began in the 10th century. It was only with the arrival of Irish immigrants in the United States in the 18th century that the parades became a symbolic way of celebrating their traditions and roots, according to History.com.
So we decided to dig a little into the history of the occasion and its origins in Irish folklore, as well as the recent history of the ‘Emerald Isle’ itself, to see how far the traditions and symbols associated with it have changed over time.
He was born in Britain around 390 AD to an aristocratic Christian family with a townhouse, a country villa, and slaves. He was kidnapped to Ireland when he was 16, and although he escaped, he had a vision of God that compelled him to go back and preach Christianity to the Irish.
Patrick, who later became the patron saint of Ireland, was responsible for converting most of Ireland to Christianity. The original inhabitants of the island were pagan worshippers of the Sun.
Ireland is about 300 miles (480 kilometers) long and 200 miles (320 kilometers) wide. Those facts, along with other features, led Swedish geographer Ulf Erlingsson to recently conclude that the Atlantic Ocean island is identified by the Greek philosopher Plato as Atlantis in his famous dialogues Timaeus and Critias.
In 1959, Walt Disney released a film called 'Darby O'Gill & the Little People,' which introduced America to a cheerful, friendly leprechaun, very different from the cranky little man of Irish folklore (the black-and-white drawing on the left). But Disney's imagined version (the colour representation on the right) stuck, and the leprechaun is now a symbol of St. Patrick's Day and Ireland in general.
In 2005, Ireland was ranked the best place to live in the world. According to The Economist's Quality of Life Index, which measures GDP per person, job security, community life, and political stability, among other things.
In 2010, Ireland was given an €85 billion ($113 billion) bailout by the EU and IMF. And according to Former European Central Bank Executive Board member Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, it could need a further €80 billion, Bloomberg reports.
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