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What is St. Patrick’s Day?
There’s one day in the year (besides New Year’s Eve of course) where many of us like to party like there’s no tomorrow… this is St. Patrick’s Day, which takes place annually on the 17th of March. Although it is not a public holiday, Maltese people still choose to take leave from work and grab a few pints with their friends.
You may be thinking, where did this holiday come from? Of course, Ireland. St. Patrick was the patron saint of the Emerald Isle and this date marks the anniversary of his death. He was born in Roman Britain in the late 4th Century and taken to Ireland as a slave. He helped Ireland convert to Christianity. Legend has it that he explained the Holy Trinity (the Father, Son, Holy Spirit) using three leaves of a shamrock, an Irish type of clover.
This Catholic feast was first observed in the 9th or 10th century in Ireland. However, the first parade took part in the United States of America in 1601 and it was organised by an Irish vicar named Ricardo Artur, in a Spanish colony today known as St. Augustine, Florida.
What made this holiday so important were the Irish emigrants to the United States in the 18th century. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in Boston took place in 1737, which is home to many Irish immigrants even today. The Irish soldiers who missed home and served in the English military marched on the 17th March 1772 in New York City to honour their patron saint. Irish patriotism continued to flourish in the U.S. and in 1848, many societies in New York got together and started holding annual St. Patrick’s Day parades with bagpipes and drums.
Today, this feast is celebrated around the world, not just in Ireland and the United States. In Malta, the earliest celebrations are traced back to the past century, where Irish regiment of soldiers of the British Army would celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Floriana, the town which they were stationed. Thanks to them, it was previously celebrated there, while today, festivities take place in St. Julian’s, not far from the clubbing district Paceville. Although celebrated secularly, Holy Mass is usually held at the Church of St. Barbara in Valletta, organised by the Irish-Maltese circle.
The main celebrations usually take place in St. Julian’s, where thousands flock to the seafront area, mainly near Tigullio club as early as 11am. Organised events will take place at bars and night clubs within this area following a two-year absence due to COVID-19 restrictions. Locals as well as foreigners drink Maltese beer such as Cisk, as well as international beer whilst dancing to loud music blaring over speakers in the streets.
However, should you plan on attending, make sure you stay safe and think of everyone else around you – don’t drink too much, be careful of your belongings, don’t litter, and make sure you get home in one piece!
The typical St. Patrick’s day celebrations in Spinola, St. Julian’s – Times of Malta
Focus on Fluency:
- like there’s no tomorrow (idiom) – as much as possible without planning or thinking first
- pints (noun, informal) – a pint of beer, or a liquid equal to one eighth of a gallon
- leave (noun) – a period of time where a person is allowed to take time off work
- patron saint (noun) – the protecting or guiding saint of a person or place.
- Shamrock (noun) – a low-growing clover-like plant with three-lobed leaves, used as the national emblem of Ireland.
- Vicar (noun) — a representative or deputy of a bishop in Church
- Emigrants (noun) – a person who leaves their own country in order to settle permanently in another
- Immigrants (noun) – a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country
- Patriotism (noun) – devotion and support for one’s own country
- bagpipes (noun) – a musical instrument with reed pipes that are sounded by the pressure of wind emitted from a bag squeezed by the player’s arm, mainly associated with Scotland
- regiment (noun) – a permanent unit of an army divided into separate companies
- secularly (adverb) – in a way which is unrelated to religious or spiritual matters
- flock (verb) – move or go together in a crowd
The island nation of Malta has the most public holidays in the European Union. These hold both national and religious importance to Malta as they commemorate historical events, including the birth of the Church in Malta, the departure of Malta’s colonisers, Christianity in Malta and other significant moments.
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