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MAR

7

Green is groovy!

March 7, 2014

St. Patrick’s Day is observed every year on March 17, by the Irish and the Irish-at-heart across the globe. The day commemorates Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the patron saint of Ireland, and the arrival of Christianity in country. But what began as a religious feast day; has become an international festival that celebrates Irish culture. Today, St. Patrick’s Day is synonymous with parades, special foods, dancing and the color green! Outside of Ireland, it is hugely popular in Britain, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have also caught up in Japan, Malaysia, Russia, Switzerland, Germany, France and even the International Space Station – making this a truly global festival! In the earlier centuries, on St. Patrick’s Day, religious restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol were lifted, propagating the holiday’s tradition of alcohol consumption and special foods. It was a chance to loosen up and have a good time during religious restrictions or economic depression. Although there is no historical reference that links the Saint to the color green, it is said that he used a shamrock leaf to explain the Holy Trinity. It could also be due to the fact that Ireland is often referred to as the Emerald Isle. Some cool facts about St. Patrick’s Day: • St. Patrick was actually born in England. He was kidnapped and taken to Ireland, and although he escaped, he chose to return to Ireland to preach his faith. • 34.7 million US residents claim Irish ancestry – this is more than seven times the population of Ireland. However, nearly 122 million Americans – roughly 39% of the population – celebrate this day. • 40 lbs. of green dye are used o turn the Chicago River green for St. Patrick’s Day. • Astronauts on board the International Space Station have celebrated the festival in different ways. Irish-American Catherine Coleman played a hundred-year-old flute and a tin whistle, both belonging to an Irish music group, while floating weightless, in 2011. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfeild took photographs of Ireland from earth orbit, and a picture of himself wearing green clothing in the space station, and posted them online on Saint Patrick’s Day in 2013. • One of the longest-running and largest Saint Patrick’s Day parades in North America occurs each year in Montreal, whose city flag includes a shamrock in its lower-right quadrant. How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Well, if parades are not your thing and you’d rather not be caught dead wearing anything as green as a leprechaun, the best way to experience St. Patrick’s Day is by visiting any local Irish pub. Choose from Irish whiskey (said to be the oldest whiskey in the world) or Guinness (a beer like no other) or Irish cream (the world’s most popular liqueur), and celebrate with true Irish spirit! Sláinte!

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