Saint Patrick's Day - Dzień Św. Patryka
Saint Patrick's Day is a Catholic feast day which celebrates Saint Patrick (386-493), the patron saint of Ireland. It is a national holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the overseas territory of Montserrat and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
St. Patrick's Day is usually celebrated March 17, but Ireland's bishops have shifted the feast day in 2008, in honor of the national saint, to Saturday, March 15
Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated worldwide by Irish people and increasingly by many of non-Irish descent. The oldest and largest parade in the world is held in New York City. Parades also take place in Dublin and in most other Irish towns and villages. Other large parades include those in Savannah, Georgia, Manchester, Montreal, and Boston. Large parades also take place in other places throughout Europe and the Americas, as well as Australia and Asia.
As well as being a celebration of Irish culture, Saint Patrick's Day is a Christian festival celebrated in the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland (among other churches in the Anglican Communion) and some other denominations. The day always falls in the season of Lent and sometimes during Holy Week. In church calendars (though rarely in secular ones) Saint Patrick's Day is moved to the following Monday when it falls on a Sunday. If it falls in Holy Week, it is moved to the second Monday after Easter. It is traditional for those observing a lenten fast to break it for the duration of Saint Patrick's Day.
In many parts of the U.S., Britain, and Australia, expatriate Irish, those of Irish descent, and ever-growing crowds of people with no Irish connections but who may proclaim themselves "Irish for a day" also celebrate St. Patrick's Day, usually by drinking alcoholic beverages (lager dyed green, Irish beer such as Murphys, Smithwicks, Harp or Guinness, or Irish whiskey, Irish Coffee or Baileys Irish Cream) and by wearing at least one article of green-colored clothing. Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch once proclaimed himself "Ed O'Koch" for the day and is one of the most famous people of non-Irish descent to publicly revel on the holiday.
Saint Patrick's Day parades in Ireland date from the late 19th century, originating in the growing sense of Irish nationalism. (The first parade did not begin in Ireland but in the British colonies).
In the mid-1990s, a group called St. Patrick's Festival was set up by the Irish government with the aim to:
- Offer a national festival that ranks amongst all of the greatest celebrations in the world and promote excitement throughout Ireland via innovation, creativity, grassroots involvement, and marketing activity.
- Provide the opportunity and motivation for people of Irish descent, Scottish descent, (and those who sometimes wish they were Irish) to attend and join in the imaginative and expressive celebrations.
- Project, internationally, an accurate image of Ireland as a creative, professional and sophisticated country with wide appeal, as we approach the new millennium.
The first Saint Patrick's Day was held in 1996, and was celebrated only on the day. In 1997, it became a three-day event, and since 2000 has been a four-day event. The most recent festivals have included extensive fireworks displays (Skyfest), open-air music, street theater and the traditional parade.
The topic of the 2004 St. Patrick's Symposium was "Talking Irish," during which the nature of Irish identity, economic success and the future was discussed. Since 1996, there has been a greater emphasis on celebrating and projecting a fluid and inclusive notion of "Irishness" rather than a identity based around traditional religious or ethnic allegiance.
Many Irish people still wear a bunch of shamrock on their lapels or caps on this day or green, white, and orange badges (after the colors of the Irish flag). Girls traditionally wear green in their hair.
The biggest celebrations in Ireland outside Dublin are in Downpatrick, where Saint Patrick was buried following his death on March 17, 461. In 2004, according to Down District Council, the week-long St. Patrick's Festival had over 2000 participants and 82 floats, bands, and performers, and was watched by over 30,000 people.
Although celebrated by the Church of Ireland as a Christian festival, Saint Patrick's Day as a celebration of Irish culture is rarely acknowledged by Northern Irish loyalists, who consider it a festival of the Irish republicans. The Belfast City Council recently agreed to give public funds to its parade for the first time; previously the parade was funded privately.
Since the 1990s, Irish Taoisigh have sometimes attended special functions either on Saint Patrick's Day or a day or two earlier, in the White House, where they present shamrock to the president of the United States. A similar presentation is made to the Speaker of the House. Originally only representatives of the Republic of Ireland attended, but since the mid-1990s all major Irish political parties from north and south are invited, with the attendance including the representatives of the Irish government, the Ulster Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Sinn Féin and others. No northern Irish parties were invited for these functions in 2005. In recent years, it is common for the entire Irish government to be abroad representing the country in various parts of the world. In 2003, the President of Ireland celebrated the holiday in Sydney, the Taoiseach was in Washington, while other Irish government members attended ceremonies in New York, Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Savannah, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Diego, New Zealand, Hong Kong, South Africa, Korea, Japan and Brazil.
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