St. Patty's Day

Wearing green, leprechauns, Erin Go Bragh, the shamrock shake. All these things are synonymous with St. Patrick's Day. But where did these traditions start? And is this just a holiday for drinking?

According to the History channel, it all began with St. Patrick who in actuality was named Maewyn Succat, living in Britain in the fifth century. When Succat was 16 he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland to become a slave for six years before escaping.

Succat went back to Britain but had a vision that beckoned him to help the people of Ireland, so he became a priest and changed his name to the Christian name Patrick and returned to Ireland to convert the Irish to Christianity. March 17 is St. Patrick's Day because that is the day he died and ever since the fifth century, Irish Christians consider that day a holy day and he has become the patron saint of Ireland.

As for wearing green on that day, even though the color most associated with St. Patrick was blue, the Irish people would wear a shamrock on their lapels to honor the saint for the legend that he taught people about the holy trinity on a shamrock. As for the shamrock, it is a sacred plant in Ireland because it symbolizes the rebirth of spring.

In the 17 century, as the English began to seize Irish land and make laws against the use of Irish language and the practice of Catholicism, many Irish began to wear the shamrock as a symbol of their heritage and their displeasure with English rule.

When the Irish uprising happened in 1798, the Irish took St. Patrick and the shamrock and used it politically and wore green garments to show independence against England. They even had the Irish army don
green uniforms with the saying, "Erin Go Bragh" as their creed, which in Irish Gaelic means "Ireland Forever."

The leprechauns' association with the Irish and St. Patty's day had to do with America and not Ireland. Ireland thought of leprechauns as cranky souls known for their trickery, which they used to protect their "pot of gold." When Walt Disney released a film in 1959 portraying leprechauns as cheerful and friendly, and later the Lucky Charms cereal leprechaun
entertaining children, the happy leprechaun became a symbol of the holiday and Ireland.

Drinking has always been part of St. Patty's day, but before beer companies commercialized it into an all-drinking holiday in America, traditionally Irish families would attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon.

Because the holiday landed during the Christian season of Lent, which prohibits the eating of meat, all these rules were waived so people would dance to Irish music and drink and feast on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage. Irish-Americans instead ate corn beef sandwiches and cabbage because it was a cheap substitution to Irish bacon.

They also invented the first St. Patrick's
day parade in New York before the American Revolution. In Ireland, pubs closed on St.
Patrick's Day, but in 1995, the government kept the pubs open to boost tourism. Ever since, the once religious holiday now has multi-day celebrations featuring parades, concerts and firework shows.

This holiday is not only for those of Irish descent; countries such as Japan, Russia and Singapore have major parties celebrating the Irish holiday. By the time this article is published, St. Patrick's will have been over but you don't have to wait until next year
to celebrate.

You can be in an Irish atmosphere anytime by going to O'Brien's Irish Pub and restaurant or Finn McCool's Pub. They are both on Main Street in Santa Monica, which has Irish food such as Guinness pie and has live bands.
If you want to go out of Santa Monica
to seek some Irish atmosphere, Molly Malone's is the way to go on Fairfax Ave. in Los Angeles, which has been open for more than 30 years showcasing Irish music and food.