聖派翠克日 St. Patrick's Day
St. Patrick出生於西元四世紀的威爾斯(Wales)，16歲時被土匪抓去賣了當奴隸，在當奴隸的這段時期，他覺得與神更加貼近，六年後逃到蘇格蘭，在修道院跟隨St. Germain學習，後來回到愛爾蘭從事宣教的工作，幫助異教徒皈依基督教，也在愛爾蘭各地建立了許多修道院、教會和學校，將愛爾蘭逐漸轉變成一個基督教國家。St. Patrick在西元461年的3月17日去世，從那天開始，愛爾蘭人便開始慶祝St. Patrick's Day，以追念他的事蹟。
St. Patrick生前有許多事蹟被大眾廣為流傳，包括他曾讓人死而復生，在山丘上傳道而將愛爾蘭島上所有的蛇都驅逐入海，最重要的還有他藉用三葉酢槳草(Shamrock)來闡述「神、耶穌、聖靈」三位一體的教義，也因此三葉酢槳草成為St. Patrick's Day的象徵。
美國St. Patrick's Day的慶典習俗是在1737年由早期的愛爾蘭移民所帶入，第一次公共慶典在波士頓(Boston)舉行。美國早期愛爾蘭移民並不多，且深受英國新教徒移民的排擠，直到19世紀，在1846到1850年這段時間，愛爾蘭因為天氣惡劣，馬鈴薯歉收，發生大饑荒，開始向美國大量移民，當1848年淘金熱時，愛爾蘭人更大批西遷，成為舊金山多元文化中的重要份子。
今年舊金山第149屆St. Patrick's Day Parade將在3月11日星期日舉行，遊行路線從市場街和二街街口(Market Street @ Second Street)沿市場街往市政中心(Civic Center)。約有200個遊行隊伍，觀賞與參加人數將高達50萬人，遊行終點有慶祝派對，以及愛爾蘭樂隊、舞蹈、食物、和啤酒助興，聽說還有蛇的比賽(Snake Race)！
在這一天的舊金山，傳統的St. Patrick's Day慶祝方式是當天早上搭地鐵或公車到Powell Station下，走一個半街口到教會路Mission Street上的St. Patrick's Church，參加早上10:30的彌撒。結束後，到市場街觀賞12:30開始的遊行，然後再到市政中心參加慶祝派對。
這樣的慶祝對愛爾蘭人而言是絕對不夠的，在Patty's Day當然得「Act Irish, Drink Irish and Talk Irish」，所以遊行結束後，可以搭公車到位於日落區的愛爾蘭文化中心(United Irish Cultural Center)，車程約為30分鐘，遊行當天供應價格合理的傳統玉米牛肉晚餐，並有一系列精彩的音樂舞蹈活動，不懂愛爾蘭舞蹈的人，也歡迎現學現賣，保證跳到深夜樂不思蜀，有個最值得懷念的愛爾蘭日。
The Shamrock Islands and the Leprechauns
The person who was to become St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Wales about AD 385. His given name was Maewyn, and he almost didn't get the job of bishop of Ireland because he lacked the required scholarship.
Far from being a saint, until he was 16, he considered himself a pagan. At that age, he was sold into slavery by a group of Irish marauders that raided his village. During his captivity, he became closer to God.
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.
His wishes were to return to Ireland, to convert the native pagans to Christianity. But his superiors instead appointed St. Palladius. But two years later, Palladius transferred to Scotland. Patrick, having adopted that Christian name earlier, was then appointed as second bishop to Ireland.
Patrick was quite successful at winning converts. And this fact upset the Celtic Druids. Patrick was arrested several times, but escaped each time. He traveled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country. He also set up schools and churches which would aid him in his conversion of the Irish country to Christianity.
His mission in Ireland lasted for thirty years. After that time, Patrick retired to County Down. He died on March 17 in AD 461. That day has been commemorated as St. Patrick's Day ever since.
Much Irish folklore surrounds St. Patrick's Day. Not much of it is actually substantiated.
Some of this lore includes the belief that Patrick raised people from the dead. He also is said to have given a sermon from a hilltop that drove all the snakes from Ireland. Of course, no snakes were ever native to Ireland, and some people think this is a metaphor for the conversion of the pagans. Though originally a Catholic holy day, St. Patrick's Day has evolved into more of a secular holiday.
One traditional icon of the day is the shamrock. And this stems from a more bona fide Irish tale that tells how Patrick used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the Trinity. He used it in his sermons to represent how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit could all exist as separate elements of the same entity. His followers adopted the custom of wearing a shamrock on his feast day.
The St. Patrick's Day custom came to America in 1737. That was the first year St. Patrick's Day was publicly celebrated in this country, in Boston.
Today, people celebrate the day with parades, wearing of the green, and drinking beer. One reason St. Patrick's Day might have become so popular is that it takes place just a few days before the first day of spring. One might say it has become the first green of spring.
Copyright © 1999, 2005 by Jerry Wilson.