st-patricks-day Everyone has heard of St Patrick’s day, a day to drink and have fun, especially if you are Irish.  But do you know the origins of this festival?

St Patrick’s day, celebrated on March 17th has been an official Christian feast since the Seventeenth century, commemorating Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the patron Saint of Ireland and the arrival of Christianity in this land. Nowadays, it is also a celebration of Irish culture and heritage.

People attend public parades and festivals and normally wear green and shamrocks. It is said that St Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to pagan Irish. The shamrock became associated with him and the festival. In fact, green has been associated with Ireland for a long time, at least since the 1640s when the Irish Catholic Confederation adopted a green flag with a yellow harp.

On St Patrick’s day, Christian people attend church services and during that day, the Lent restrictions are lifted and people are free to eat and drink.

Saint Patrick’s feast day, as a national day, was already being celebrated by the Irish in Europe in the ninth and tenth centuries. In later times, he became more and more widely known as the patron of Ireland. In 1903, Saint Patrick’s Day became an official public holiday in Ireland. The first Saint Patrick’s Day parade held in the Irish Free State was held in Dublin in 1931.

In the mid-1990s the government of the Republic of Ireland began a campaign to use Saint Patrick’s Day to showcase Ireland and its culture.  The first Saint Patrick’s Festival was held on 17 March 1996.

 

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In Europe, you measure height in metres and centimetres.

In the UK and the US, we use the imperial system, and that includes feet and inches. The ‘foot’ was based on 1/3 of the length of King Henry I’s arm. 1 inch is about 2.4 cm. There are 12 inches in 1 foot. I measure 1.74 m, but in the UK people say that I measure 5 feet, 8 and a quarter inches !

Now, the tallest person in the world was Robert Wadlow who lived in the US from February 22, 1918 to July 15, 1940. Unfortunately, he died very young and at his death he measured 8 feet 11 inches, thats 2.72m.

Can you imagine that ? Just look at this film of the gentle giant with his father !

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  I found this interesting article about the expression “Bless you!” on an American site. The link to the full article is just after the text, in case you want to learn more …

Atchoo !

Many people have become accustomed to saying “bless you” or “gesundheit” when someone sneezes.         No-one says anything when someone coughs, blows their nose or burps, so why do sneezes get special treatment? What do those phrases actually mean, anyway?

Wishing someone well after they sneeze probably originated thousands of years ago. The Romans would say “Jupiter preserve you” or “Salve,” which meant “good health to you,” and the Greeks would wish each other “long life.” The phrase “God bless you” is attributed to Pope Gregory the Great, who uttered it in the sixth century during a bubonic plague epidemic (sneezing is an obvious symptom of one form of the plague).

The exchangeable term “gesundheit” comes from Germany, and it literally means “health.” The idea is that a sneeze typically precedes illness. It entered the English language in the early part of the 20th century, brought to the United States by German-speaking immigrants.

http://people.howstuffworks.com/sneezing.htm

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In Japan, it is traditional for women to offer chocolate to the men in their lives on Valentine’s day. Different types of chocolates exist for different relations, raging from “obligatory chocolate” for a boss or a work colleague to “true feeling chocolate” given to a husband or boyfriend. Men reciprocate one month later on White day, March 14th, and offer gifts and chocolates in return to the people who gave them chocolate on St Valentine’s day.

The tradition is the same in Korea, with the addition of “Black day” on April 14th. On that day, single people who didn’t receive any gift or chocolate either on St Valentine’s day or White day, meet in restaurants to commiserate and eat white noodles in black bean sauce. In South Korea, in fact, the 14th of each month is being marked for a special celebration such as Rose day on May 14th or Kiss day on June 14th.

In Taïwan, the tradition is the opposite with women receiving gifts on St Valentine’s day and men on White day.

St Valentine’s day is celebrated in Denmark and Norway with funny little poems or rhyming love notes given anonymously by men to women. The only clue as to the name of the sender is represented with a dot for each letter of the name. If the woman guesses the name of the sender accurately, she wins an Easter egg on Easter day. If she doesn’t, she owes the sender an Easter egg.

In Slovenia, if love is celebrated on St Valentine’s day, it is actually on March 12th that most people celebrate love.

Finnish and Estonian people celebrate friendship rather than love on St Valentine’s day, exchanging gifts and cards with friends. It is however a popular day to get engaged or married.

In Wales, the patron saint of lovers, St Dwynwen, is celebrated on January 25th. On this day, men traditionally present the woman they are interested in with a carved spoon symbolizing their love.

This is an extract from the following article found here.

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Each year, on the 14th of February, people send cards, flowers, or gifts to their special person. That day, St Valentine’s day, is named for a Christian martyr. St Valentine was captured and tortured by the Romans on the 14th of February 273 AD and this date was adopted as his name day. In the Middle Ages, the day started representing romantic love although many people believe that the Pagan fertility festivals had a large influence on this.

Traditionally, people bought gifts or revealed their love with hand written notes until the Nineteenth Century. Commercial cards became popular and widely available. Sending cards is still part of the tradition today. The cards usually have some sort of message, poem, or code. Sending a card allows people the opportunity and courage to show their true feelings to the person they love.

Popular gifts include boxes of chocolates, flowers, jewelry, perfume or more personal presents. Sometimes, people prefer to go out for a meal, go to the cinema or spend the evening together instead of exchanging gifts.

And you? How do you spend Valentine’s Day?

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