A Traditional Patrick's Day Celebration
With all the St. Patrick’s Day parades cancelled due to COVID 19, let’s take a few minutes to reflect on simpler times in the past and how St Patrick’s Day was originally celebrated.
In the past the emphasis was on spirituality and a break from the austerities of Lent. Families would go to mass and people would wear a St. Patrick’s Cross badge. The week before the festival, children would be busy making crosses, which differed, depending on whether you were a boy or a girl. The boy’s cross was quite simple; white paper with a circle divided into 3 colours, yellow, green and red. The cross was worn on his cap. The girls had ribbons of different colours and was worn by her right shoulder. People also wore a sprig of shamrock on their lapels.
When Mass was over, the family headed home to prepare a traditional meal of bacon and cabbage, served with some soda bread and potatoes.
Celebrations after dinner, families went to a ceili and the evening was spent in singing, dancing, telling stories. At the end of the evening, there was one last custom to observe known as ‘drowning the Shamrock.’ Shamrock was placed into the bottom of a glass and when everyone’s health had been drunk, the shamrock was taken from the bottom of the glass and thrown over the left shoulder.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day and a toast to you and yours:
St. Patrick was a gentleman
Who through strategy and stealth
Drove all the snakes from Ireland,
Here’s a toasting to his health;
But not too many toastings
Lest you lose yourself and then
Forget the good St. Patrick
And see all those snakes again!
• Content The Year In Ireland by Kevin Danaher and Chronicle of Celtic Folk Customs by Brian Day