clover, the shamrock is the national emblem of Ireland.
Although it is widely believed that St. Patrick used the
shamrock to illustrate the Christian doctrine of the trinity,
this idea cannot be proven. In fact the first written mention
of this story did not appear until nearly a thousand years
after Patrick's death.
which was also called the "seamroy" by the Celts, was a sacred
plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolized the rebirth of
spring. By the seventeenth century, the shamrock had become a
symbol of emerging Irish nationalism. As the English began to
seize Irish land and make laws against the use of the Irish
language and the practice of Catholicism, many Irish began to
wear the shamrock as a symbol of their pride in their heritage
and their displeasure with English rule.
Music is often
associated with St. Patrick's Day—and Irish culture in
general. From ancient days of the Celts, music has always been
an important part of Irish life. The Celts had an oral
culture, where religion, legend, and history were passed from
one generation to the next by way of stories and songs.
conquered by the English, and forbidden to speak their own
language, the Irish, like other oppressed peoples, turned to
music to help them remember important events and hold on to
their heritage and
history. As it often stirred emotion and helped to galvanize
people, music was outlawed by the English. During her
reign,Queen Elizabeth I even decreed that all artists and
pipers were to be arrested and hanged on the spot.
traditional Irish bands like The Chieftains, the Clancy
Brothers, and Tommy Makem are gaining worldwide popularity.
Their music is produced with instruments that have been used
for centuries, including the fiddle, the uilleann pipes (a
sort of elaborate bagpipe), the tin whistle (a sort of flute
that is actually made of nickel-silver, brass, or aluminum),
and the bodhran (an ancient type of framedrum that was
traditionally used in warfare rather than music).
It has long been
recounted that, during his mission in Ireland, St. Patrick
once stood on a hilltop (which is now called Croagh Patrick),
and with only a wooden staff by his side, banished all the
snakes from Ireland. In fact, the island nation was never home
to any snakes. The "banishing of the snakes" was really a
metaphor for the eradication of pagan ideology from Ireland
and the triumph of Christianity. Within two hundred years of
Patrick's arrival, Ireland was completely Christianized.