What is it about St. Patrick’s Day that for at least one day of the year every man/woman and their dog needs to demonstrate their Irishness? It does not matter how tenuous the link to the Emerald Isle or how deeply the green spandex is buried in the drawer it will be dragged out for this one day.
Part of the reason of course is that there are large Irish communities in many parts of the World. Their eagerness to party and the irrepressibly social spirit of the ebullient Nation is an endearing quality which is easy to identify with.
An excuse for a few extra Guinness is certainly a motive for many, a drop of the ‘black stuff’ is synonymous with Ireland, and some even believe it tastes better over there? I am not going to reveal whether it does or not; you need to find out for yourself!
Even here in the United Kingdom St. Patrick’s Day seems to hold a special place in our hearts. The other constituent countries have their own patron saints, but these never inspire the same outpourings of national pride, fervour and festivities.
St Georges Day
The patron saint of England’s national day is ‘celebrated on 23rd April each year, but the truth is unfortunately it will go without any real fuss. This is a guy who is fabled to have not only found a mythical fearsome beast, but also killed it with a sword! If that does not warrant at least a few drinks, then what does?
St Andrews Day
Scotland’s patron saint has his national day on 30th November. It is officially recognised as a bank holiday in Scotland but banks do not have to close and employers are not obliged to give their staff the day off. The Scottish are quite partial to a drink, so they will certainly enjoy any excuse to celebrate, but the day barely seems to receive any recognition outside of Scotland.
St David’s Day
The Welsh Principality has of course its own patron saint, and his day is celebrated on 1st March. There is a National festival, but not a bank holiday and in many places celebrations do not go much beyond the wearing of daffodils or leeks, though I am sure the Welsh are fervently patriotic about their own saint. I was once attached to a Welsh Regiment, and they really went to town every year, culminating in a rugby game between the Welsh soldiers and the rest of the World, we always lost!
There is talk in the echelons of power that one of the Mayday bank holidays maybe moved to St George’s Day. There is some opposition to it, and I am sure it will not prove popular with the other home nations, but another excuse for a genuine celebration should be welcomed. Being a patriot I hope it happens, celebrating the patron saint of England would be an excellent reason to enjoy a glass of red wine or maybe a cider and a hunk of beef too. The type that is usually enjoyed with gravy and Yorkshire pudding thank you girls, okay let’s leave it there.
Enough of the analysis, here in Manchester we are not exactly up to our muineál in Irish pubs, but the benefit of this is that the few around are packed out and the atmosphere is great. Everybody is intent on having a good time, and in the full spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, copious amounts of Irish Flag shooters are washed down with even more Guinness.
Everywhere is a dance floor and everybody is a model just waiting to pose in front of the lens. It is amazing how popular a big camera can make someone, I even had a Guinness bought for me last year!
Green is of course the predominant colour, big hats, silly red beards, shanty tunes, Irish jigs and broad smiles are the order of the day. Plenty of shenanigans to be going on with, even a few shamrocks, and many a lucky charm to be found at the bottom of a glass. There were also plenty of lovely ladies some even with soft Irish brogues and eyes a smiling, however the leprechauns were a little oversized and both rainbows and pots of gold were distinctly absent.
To many people St. Patrick’s Day is a great reason to get out and enjoy the party atmosphere almost wherever you maybe. Long may this continue and bring the celebrations for tomorrow, any invitations for Boston?