Monday, March 16, 2009

Saint Patrick's Day

Right after I walked in my cubical Monday morning, my coworker stopped by. He looked at me, then said, “Where is the green?” I realized that it was Saint Patrick’s Day.

After my coworker left, I unpacked and got my stuffs being organized to be ready for the day. I noticed that there were green helleboruses on my desk! They were leftovers from Friday. I was invited by a dear HM reader to her beautiful garden to see the flowers. She gave me some to take with me. I took most of them home and left few at office. It was just like that I knew Saint Patrick’s Day coming so I left the green ones in the office! Using those green helleboruses, I made a simple Saint Patrick’s Day arrangement (picture is top-down view).

Wednesday night I googled Internet about Saint Patrick’s Day in order to prepare for the new Happy Friday, the Chinese version of the Happy Monday. I thought my Chinese readers would love to learn some Irish cultural.

When I google, I always learn something, even for the topics that I thought I knew about. It was no exception this time. I learned good deal of information about St. Patrick’s Day from wikipedia page and few official Irish websites.

St. Patrick's Day (Irish: Lá ’le Pádraig or Lá Fhéile Pádraig), colloquially St. Paddy's Day or Paddy's Day, is an annual feast day that celebrates Saint Patrick (circa 385–461 AD), one of the patron saints of Ireland, and is generally celebrated on March 17th. I had known that the celebration is associated with green color, but I did not knew that it was originally celebrated with St. Patrick's Blue, not green. It probably began around the 1750s when green was the color used for this holiday. It might come from the phrase "the wearing of the green" meaning to wear a shamrock on one's clothing. According to wikipedia, “At many times in Irish history, to do so (the wearing of the green) was seen as a sign of Irish nationalism or loyalty to the Roman Catholic faith. St. Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Christian Irish. The wearing of and display of shamrocks and shamrock-inspired designs had become a ubiquitous feature of the saint's holiday.”

It was also very interesting to learn that Chicago River is dyed green each year for the St. Patrick's Day celebration (picture is from 2005’s celebration). I had worked two years in Evanston, the city next to Chicago, and I did not know that until after I read.

The most inspirit part of the reading for me was about the holiday celebration history and how the celebration was widely spread.

In the past, Saint Patrick's Day was celebrated only as a religious holiday. Though it became a public holiday in 1903, the holiday remains a religious observance in Ireland, for both the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic Church. It was only in the mid-1990s that the Irish government began a campaign to use Saint Patrick's Day to showcase Ireland and its culture. The government set up a group called St. Patrick's Festival, with the aim to offer a national festival that ranks amongst all of the greatest celebrations in the world and project, internationally, an accurate image of Ireland as a creative, professional and sophisticated country with wide appeal. The first Saint Patrick's Festival was held on March 17th, 1996. In 1997, it became a three-day event, and by 2000 it was a four-day event. Since 2006, the festival has been five days long.

The campaign was a very successful one. Currently, many parts of North America, Britain, and Australia, expatriate Irish and ever-growing crowds of people with no Irish connections also celebrate St. Patrick's Day. There is a yearly parade in Tokyo, Japan on this day too. People wear green-colored clothing, eat Irish or green food, drink Irish drinks, join the holiday parade. Through those celebration activities, people learn Irish cultural, increase the understanding with Irish people.

United States is a country of immigrants. When I was in graduate school, I took Speech Communication class. The students were given various topics to discuss and everyone was asked to deliver a five minutes speech on each topic. One of the topics was “United States as a salad bowl vs. a melting pot”. That was a very valuable lesson I learned. As an immigrant in this country, I take it as my duty to share my own cultural and heritage with others while I am learning from others. The salad will be more pretty or tastier if it is colorful. People can be Irish for a day wearing green, or Chinese for a day wearing red, the more we understand each other, the more we could tolerate and the more peaceful mind we will have for each other. There are more than hundred countries in the world, if we pick up one holiday to celebrate from each country, wow, how fun that could be! I can image that people will live very festive and harmony life!

Wish you all a very Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

In Friendship through Flowers,


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