St Patrick's Day

Top of the mornin' to ye, it's St. Patrick's Day! The patron saint of Ireland's feast day is celebrated with a bank holiday in Northern Ireland and a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland and Montserrat in the Caribbean, where many Irish settlers made their home in the fifteenth century.

The legends of Saint Patrick claim that it was he who explained the Christian Holy Trinity to the Irish by using a shamrock leaf to show the father, son and holy spirit as 3 beings and 1 God at the same time. The shamrock is now the national symbol of Ireland. The other more famous legend of Saint Patrick is that he banished all the snakes from Ireland. Although, experts claim that there were never any snakes in Ireland, so perhaps the story is an allergorical one. The religious holiday was celebrated for many years before being turned into a public holiday in the early 1900s. Around this time a law was passed to make pubs shut on St. Patrick's Day! Amazingly this law was only repealed in the 1970s. Just imagine St. Paddy's Day without drink!

St. Patrick's Day has great appeal outside Ireland too, especially in America, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the UK. People of Irish descent and non-Irish people too enjoy celebrating the day with lots of drink and by wearing green and also by attending parades. In the UK you can find lots of St. Patrick's Day events. For example in London there was a festival which took place in Trafalgar Square. If you attended you would have been able to sample traditional Irish foods, watch Irish dances (like Riverdance), listen to Irish music and see Irish crafts and culture. There was also a parade of marching bands from Ireland and the UK that followed a route through London's main streets.

In Birmingham, there has been a week's worth of celebration up until today. Their parade was enormous and included bands, floats, horse-drawn carriages, tractors and all sorts. In Manchester St. Patrick's Day will be celebrated in nearly every pub and club in town! Feasts, dancing and stand-up comedy are some of the events you can attend today. In Nottingham today you can watch the colourful parade of musicians and dancers which will end up in the Old Market Square where they will be greeted by the Lord Mayor of Nottingham and of course there'll be lots of entertainments and refreshments.

So Paddy's Day is celebrated by all sorts of people, Irish or not. Those who aren't can be Irish for the day. And of course the appeal of the celebration is the drink. By far the most popular way to commemorate Saint Patrick is by drinking Guinness, Murphy's, Beamish and Baileys (mmmm Baileys). Without a doubt, Irish pubs all over the country will be holding their own celebrations. O'Neill's have pubs all over the country, Waxy O'Conner's can be found in London, Manchester and Glasgow, Hennessey's in Birminghan, O'Sheas in Manchester, Rosie O'Grady's in Oxford and so many more, I couldn't possibly list them all here. If you want to find a great Irish pub to celebrate in tonight, search online for Irish pubs in the UK.

Here's a treat for all you Simpsons fans: tonight at 7.30pm on Sky 1 and Sky 1 HD, a special St Patrick's Day episode of the Simpson's will be aired. This episode is premiering in the UK and Ireland a whole week before it shows in the States. (That's a first!) A couple of the show's execs and also Nancy Cartwright (who voices Bart Simpson) will be attending a screening of the episode in Ireland and then taking part in the Dublin parade, which is the biggest in Europe.

Although it's not exactly traditional, these days you can buy St. Patrick's Day cards and gifts. Shamrock charms, necklaces and bracelets, or Celtic style jewellery, a beer mug or a Fighting Irish T-shirt with their leprechaun logo all make execellent St. Patrick's Day gifts.

If you're not a big drinker, you could celebrate St. Patrick's Day by making some delicious traditional Irish food. You could make boxty, which are traditional potato pancakes, Aran spiosrai is a type of Irish spiced bread and so is barmbrack, colcannon is made from potatoes and cabbage and there's also hearty Irish stew and soda bread. Search for the recipes online and sample some Irish cuisine!

Will you be enjoying the craic this St Patrick's Day? Leave a comment to tell us about your celebrations.

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