What is Clay Aiken doing on St. Patrick’s Day? Is he celebrating in New York or is he in Raleigh, enjoying a few days to recover from his fabulous concert on Friday night? Whatever he is doing, I hope he wears his “Fugly” green sweater, eats corned beef and cabbage, and sings a lovely Irish song to his darling son.
Originally a religious holiday to honor St. Patrick, who introduced Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into a celebration for all things Irish.
- The world’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade occurred on March 17, 1762, in New York City, featuring Irish soldiers serving in the English military. This parade became an annual event, with President Truman attending in 1948. Congress proclaimed March as Irish-American Heritage Month in 1995, and the President issues a proclamation each year.
- 36.3 million U.S. residents claimed Irish ancestry in 2008. This number was more than eight times the population of Ireland itself (4.4 million).
- St. Patrick was born in 385 AD somewhere along the west coast of Britain, possibly in the Welsh town of Banwen. At age 16, he was captured and sold into slavery to a sheep farmer. He escaped when he was 22 and spent the next 12 years in a monastery. In his 30s he returned to Ireland as a Christian missionary. He died at Saul in 461 AD and is buried at Downpatrick.
- The Irish flag is green, white and orange. The green symbolizes the people of the south, and orange, the people of the north. White represents the peace that brings them together as a nation.
- Legend says that each leaf of the clover means something: the first is for hope, the second for faith, the third for love and the fourth for luck.
- Leprechauns are little make-believe fairies from Ireland. They are the little old men who are shoemakers for the fairies. They usually stand about 2 feet tall. The legend is that if you catch one you can force him to tell you where he hides his gold.
- School children have started a little tradition of their own. They pinch classmates who don’t wear green on this holiday. Wearing green is strictly a U.S. custom, as the color green is not popular in Ireland. Green is connected to the old green flag and a time when Ireland was not free.
- Many people will be eating Irish food such as Irish Stew and Corned Beef and Cabbage. Corned Beef is not an Irish dish. It is what Americans think the Irish eat. A more traditional meal would be ham and cabbage or bacon and cabbage.
What are you doing to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Will you remember to wear green? Will you tip back a Guinness? Whatever you do, have fun and think back to Friday night and forward to all the wonderful things that are in the future for Clay and his fans!!!