Saint Patrick’s Day: A Celebration of Irish Culture


Roger Basick and Liz Waid look at the Irish saint, St. Patrick. People in places around the world celebrate him on March 17th.

Transcript


Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Roger Basick.

Voice 2  

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1  

Every year, on March 17th, the city of Chicago in the United States, does something unusual. They change the colour of the river that runs through the city. They use food colouring to turn the water green! They use about 18 kilograms of this vegetable-based dye for the water. They do this to celebrate an Irish saint - Saint Patrick.

Voice 2  

Many Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations involve a lot of food and drinks. Some of the food and drinks are green too. Another tradition is to wear green. And if you do not, someone may just pinch you. They may pull a little bit of skin between two fingers. But Chicago is only one place that celebrates Saint Patrick - people in cities and countries around the world celebrate him.

Voice 1  

But who is Saint Patrick? And why do people celebrate him on March 17th every year? Today’s Spotlight is on Saint Patrick and his holiday.

Voice 2  

Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. He is known for his religious work on that island. Historical church documents tell us some things about his life. But he also recorded his life and his passion for his Christian faith in his letters.

Voice 1  

Saint Patrick was born in Britain around the year 386. At this time, the Roman Empire in Britain was ending. Violent groups from Ireland invaded the land. They stole land, money, animals, objects and even people. When Patrick was 16, people from Ireland raided his family's home. They took Patrick and held him as a slave. He was kept in Ireland for six years. There, he worked as a shepherd and spent most of his time out in the fields caring for sheep. Patrick wrote in his letters that he depended on God when he felt lonely or afraid.

Voice 2  

After being held for six years, Patrick escaped. In his letters, he writes that he had a strange dream. In the dream, he heard the voice of God telling him to leave. So Patrick left. He walked almost 322 kilometres toward the Irish coast. There, he was able to get on a ship to Britain and return to his family.

Voice 1  

In Britain, Patrick studied to become a Christian priest. He lived with other religious men, as a monk. But then, Patrick's writings say that he had another dream, this time from an angel. This angel told Patrick to go back to Ireland.

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Historical records show that Patrick did return to Ireland. There, Patrick shared Christianity with the people. Because Patrick had lived in Ireland for many years, he knew the language and the people. He combined old Irish customs and traditions with the new message about the Christian faith. He did this to help the native people keep their own culture. For example, Patrick invented traditions to honor the Easter holiday. Easter is one of the most important Christian holidays. But the Irish did not celebrate Easter. The Irish worshiped other gods. And they worshiped their gods with fire. Saint Patrick used fire in his Easter celebrations. He used these ideas to explain the new religion. This also honoured the local culture.

Voice 1  

He also added a circle to the common Christian cross. This became the Celtic cross or the cross of Ireland. The circle was the symbol of the sun. The sun was a powerful Irish symbol for many people. Patrick combined the circle and cross. This showed that Jesus was like the sun.

Voice 2  

St. Patrick is also closely connected to the green shamrock plant. It has three leaves. It is often used as a symbol of Ireland. Some stories suggest that St. Patrick used this plant to teach people the Christian idea of the Trinity—that God is three but also one.

Voice 1  

But just how did the world start celebrating St. Patrick's day on March 17th every year? That is because March 17th is the anniversary of St. Patrick's death. He died on that day in the year 461. The Irish have celebrated this day for over a thousand years. Traditionally, people attended a religious service early in the day. Then they returned home to eat, drink and dance.

Voice 2  

As Irish people moved to other countries, the traditions went with them. The first St. Patrick's Day parade was in New York City, in the United States, in the year 1762. Irish soldiers were serving in the English military there. They marched through the streets. This parade helped the soldiers feel a sense of their national culture. They celebrated the parade with Irish symbols, music and food. One of the most popular instruments used in these parades were bagpipes.

Voice 1  

In the 17- and 1800s, large groups of Irish immigrants moved to the United States. This spread Saint Patrick's Day celebrations to many communities there. But the United States and Ireland are not the only places that celebrate this holiday. People in Canada, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Japan and Russia all celebrate Saint Patrick's Day. People have even celebrated this day on the International Space Station!

Voice 2  

But the biggest celebrations today are in Ireland. It has been a public holiday there since 1903. Today, in the city of Dublin, about one million people take part in Saint Patrick's Festival. This celebration is five days long! It includes parades, music, dancing, outdoor plays, fireworks and more!

Voice 1  

In the past, Saint Patrick's Day was mainly a religious celebration. Until the 1970's, Irish law even said that the bars must be closed on March 17th. But now in most places, it is more a celebration of Ireland and Irish culture. But no matter why you celebrate, make sure to wear green on March 17th - or you may get pinched!

Voice 2  

Do people celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day where you live? Do you? What people from history does your culture celebrate? You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also comment on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.

Voice 1  

The writers of this program were Erin Layman and Adam Navis. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Saint Patrick’s Day: A Celebration of Irish Culture’.

Voice 2  

Look for our listening app in the Google Play store and in iTunes. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Have you heard of St. Patrick? Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
msluan
said on March 12, 2017

March 17th is my birthday LOL :)
In the modern life today, we need hold the celebrate or festival to honour our culture and it’s a chance to people relax after working hard. And it is a best way to learn our history.
As I was child and still now, I always remember about King Quang Trung throughout the festival hold in January 5th of the lunar.

Avatar Spotlight
kenhieuloilam
said on March 16, 2017

We profess the only true God, the Trinity, the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost in Christian faith. We are children of God. We are brethren. We love God more than everything and we love everyone as ourselves. God loves the world and sends his only begotten Son into the world. Jesus Christ is the Son of God to become a human. Jesus Christ preaches the gospel of the kingdom of God, calls everyone to repent and heals the sick, the disabled and people possessed with devils. Jesus Christ does the will of God the Father to die on the cross to give the world salvation. We are children of God. We love God and we live our lives well to be worthy of children of God. We are brethren. We love one another and we sacrifice for beautiful good things.