As an expatriate living in Dublin, Ireland for a few years now, I am also looking forward to bank holidays. Not really for the joy of having a day off and do nothing, but because most of them relate to a traditional celebration.
Today is Saint Patrick's day or Saint Paddy's or Saint Pat, but NOT and has never been Saint Patty's! Irish people do not joke about it, I won't tell you twice.
But what do we really know about it, except that it's related to Ireland and Christianity, that everything turns green on that day, that there is a big parade worldwide where Irish communities live and that we see so many shamrocks in one day that we could see in one year!
Let's travel down History lane for a moment...
So, Saint Patrick lived during the fifth century and is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. He was born in Roman Britain, and at the age of 16 was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave. He later escaped, but returned to Ireland and was credited with bringing Christianity to its people and taught them the sign of holy Trinity using the symbol of the famous Shamrock.
He is also known for driving all the snakes out of Ireland. It is true that after a few years living here I have never seen any. But we need to understand it more in the metaphorical way rather than the figurative meaning. Indeed, as in many old pagan religions, serpent symbols were common and often worshiped. Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to pagan practice and the triumph start of Christianity.
It is believed that he died on 17th March 461. That's the reason why it has become a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers to those who celebrate its intended meaning.
...Back to the Present
Today, it is a big celebration worldwide and I feel lucky to be able to celebrate it in the country of Ireland where this story comes from originally. It is a big festive day with parades, foreigners in the streets from all around the world, many gigs and crowded pubs from the morning until the late evening to enjoy some local Guinness and traditional meals. But don't forget, unless you took a day off, you will have to go to work tomorrow, so don't go crazy!
Happy Saint Paddy's everyone!