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Celebrate St. Patrick Day in green Okinawa City

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2009-03-12

A wee little bit of the Irish is spreading across Okinawa City as St. Patrick’s Day sneaks up next week, and the festivities kick off this weekend.

Ireland’s traditional day is next Tuesday, but Okinawa City’s B.C. Street simply can’t wait; St. Patrick’s day starts on Saturday afternoon. The 3rd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Park Avenue Parade begins at 3 p.m. down B.C., to be followed by four hours of live entertainment including music, street dances and karate demonstrations.

Paddy Mac’s Irish Pub joins in the festivities on the traditional March 17th day, serving corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day. On Tuesday, says Paddy Mac’s owner, Martin McIntyre, ‘Everyone is Irish that day’. As for Saturday, the holiday festivities take place across three stages on B.C. Street.

And what makes Saint Patrick’s Day such a special day, you ask? Well, it’s the annual feast day celebrating one of the patron saints of Ireland, Saint Patrick, who lived around 385~461. It’s a national holiday in Ireland, a bank holiday in Northern Ireland, and a popular—but not official or legal—holiday in Great Britain, Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

The feast day typically falls during Lent, and is accompanied by combinations of parties, parades, foods and green…lots of green! That spawned from Ireland’s good luck symbol, the shamrock. The first ever St. Patrick’s Day Parade was organized by the Charitable Society and held in 1761 in Boston. New York City’s celebration began in 1762, and has now become the largest of the St. Patrick’s Day parades with more than 150,000 participants and over two million spectators.

Ireland’s cities—Dublin, Cork, Belfast, Derry, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick and Waterford—stage the country’s major parades, but rest assured, parades also take place in villages and towns throughout the country. The biggie, though, is the Dublin St. Patrick’s day parade, which attracts well over one-half million people as it takes place as part of a five-day festival.

The religious side of St. Patrick’s day leads to some variations on the celebrations, but not this year. In years when the holiday falls on a Friday, some Roman Catholic bishops will grant special dispensation, called an indult, from the no-meat Friday. In years when the holiday is on a Sunday, the religious observance switches to Monday, while the public holiday, which is fixed by the State calendar, continues as normal.

The shamrock’s holiday involvement transcends religion, with its three-leaves being used to explain the Holy Trinity in pre-Christian years. “Wearing of the green” was a sign of loyalty or Irish nationalism in the ancient days. Oddly enough, green was not the original St. Patrick’s color; that would be blue. Ireland began adapting and accepting the green as its symbol somewhere around the 1950’s.

Rest assured, the Irish—whether home grown or transplanted descendants—know how to throw a party. The parades are the foundation of holiday traditions, and are staged in hundreds of communities around the world. Even on the tiny island of Monserrat, known to many as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean thanks to its foundation by Irish refugees from Nevis and Saint Kitts, celebrates. Monserrat celebrates so much, it’s the only place outside of Ireland and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador where St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday.

So, laddies and lassies, put on the green and celebrate…at least a wee lil’ bit.

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