Saturday, March 17, 2007

Saint Patrick... Patrikas, Patryka, Patrica...

Today is St Patrick's Day, wich means shamrocks, costumes, green hats and red hair, parades and long hours in the pub with Guinness beer flowing all night long. But Ireland has seen an influx of citizens from countries such as Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic in the aftermath of the European Union enlargement. This year, Irish cities and towns reflect the country's growing multiculturalism with a strong emphasis on eastern Europe, writes Maximilian Bettzuege, from DPA agency.

Is observed by Irish people Irish citizens Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Eastern Orthodox (St. Patrick lived prior to the Great Schism). In fact, is celebrated in Moscow each year, Wikipedia says.

On 15th March 1992, thousands of Muscovites lined the Novy Arbat to witness the first St. Patrick's Day Parade in the Russian capital's history. Yuri Luzhkov — the then and current — Mayor of Moscow - and Aer Rianta Chief Executive Derek Keogh were on the reviewing stand as a police escort led the way for — rather bizarrely — Russian marching bands, Cossack horsemen, and fifteen floats representing many Russian companies. The parade, which was the brainchild of Derek Keogh, was a big success, and ensured a repeat performance the following year.Each year the floats have become more numerous and sophisticated and the range of international and Russian participants and sponsors more wide-ranging such as Pepsi and Guinness. The local Irish bars of Moscow contribute their own floats and Muscovites reveal their own homegrown Irish Wolfhounds, which are nearly as big as the floats themselves.

The Moscow parade continued to be an annual event until 1998. After a three year lapse The St Patrick's Society of Russia managed to re-establish the St Patrick's Day parade with the co-operation of the Moscow City Government, The Moscow police, various government bodies, The Irish Embassy and the Irish Community in Moscow.

Legend portrays him as the one who drove the snakes out of Ireland: he brought Christianity to the island, defeating paganism which was usually symbolized by snakes. Was born, probably in Roman Britain, about AD 385, and was originally called Maewyn.

At the age of 16, he was sold into slavery by a group of Irish marauders that raided his village. Having been a pagan before, he became closer to Christianity during his captivity.

He escaped from slavery after six years and went to Gaul where he studied in the monastery under St. Germain, bishop of Auxerre for a period of twelve years. During his training he became aware that his calling was to convert the pagans to Christianity.

St Patrick, the story goes, plucked a shamrock from the ground and explained to the druids and High King Laoghaire, that the plant had three leaves in the same way in which the Christian God had three personas - the father, the son and the Holy Ghost. Impressed, the king chose to accept Christianity.

Mabye EU needs a saint like this working full time.

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