Cape Town- Are you ready to paint the town green and celebrate St Paddy’s Day in style? What’s sure is that there will be Guinness, whisky singing and fun no matter where or how you decide to celebrate this Irish holiday. Dress up in your brightest green frock or shamrock and get ready to enjoy the day!
Snakes and Shamrocks and Saints
But have you ever stopped to wonder why the shamrock is the symbol of Ireland or why Celtic cross looks as it does? Do you know the reason why there are no snakes in the whole of the Emerald Isle? Or how the Irish ditched their pagan ways and took Christianity onboard. Yes, there’s much for the Irish to be thankful for. And it’s all down to one man – the patron saint of Ireland – Saint Patrick.
According to the folks at Busabout, legend has it that a young Patrick (he wasn’t even Irish but was born in Britain) was captured by Irish pirates when he was 16 years old. He spent 6 years in slavery, working on a sheep farm in the chilly Irish countryside before escaping and making his way back home. During his time as a slave he found God and vowed to return to Ireland and convert the pagan Celts to Christianity. And he spent the rest of his life doing this.
So where does the shamrock fit in? Undeniably this little plant is an ubiquitous symbol of the luck of the Irish and thus Ireland itself. And it is said Patrick used this three-leaved clover to explain the Holy Trinity of God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost to the heathens and converted them to Christianity.
And the snakes? It is true that Ireland is not home to any known snake species and the only place you’re likely to find one is in a zoo or a pet shop. So what is the connection? According to written texts which are very subjective it is said that Saint Patrick chased all the snakes out of Ireland. Realistically Ireland does not have the climate to support snakes who are cold blooded reptiles. The accepted theory is the snakes represent evil and paganism and by ‘driving them out’ Saint Patrick freed this island from them.
Celtic crosses are yet another nod by Saint Patrick to the pagan past of Ireland. The design incorporates the sun, worshipped by pagans, and intricate Celtic symbols representing a union combining elements of Christianity and Paganism for the new converts.
And the fifth thing you didn’t know about Saint Patrick? He is credited with inventing the Leap Year tradition. According to tradition an Irish nun was frustrated that women could not propose to men. After taking her concerns to Saint Patrick his solution was that women should be able to, but only on the 29th of February. Believe it or not?
The following ideas are sure to get you in the Irish spirit come March 17:
1. Try some traditional Irish food
When was the last time you cooked a delicious Colcannon or baked an Irish Soda Bread? While you’re in the Irish spirit, why not make some Irish coffee? Heat up a whiskey goblet, pour in one shot of Irish whisky, sprinkle in some sugar and fill the goblet with coffee. To top it off, pour cream over the back of a spoon on top of the coffee.
Not sure if your culinary qualities are up to scratch? You can head to any of the Irish pubs in Johannesburg or Cape Town and they’ll be sure to serve you the most delicious mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage, Irish stew or Shepherd’s Pie.
2. Have a typical Irish drink at an Irish watering hole
In Cape Town, Kloof Street House has promised to go all out all out with some super specials on Jameson and Jameson cocktails, made by its hot-shot mixologists. There’ll also be craft beers on tap and a selection of hearty Irish dishes with a tasty South African spin.
Also in Johannesburg, you’ll be able to celebrate the Irish way at Kegs and Beagle. Expect Guinness, Irish Car Bombs, Kilkenny, Green Beer and Irish Whiskey.
SEE: Four South African Festivals worth travelling for this Easter
3. Dance and sing the night away at an Irish party
What do the Irish and the South Africans have in common? They both know how to party!
Cape Town’s Die Afdak Pub is hosting the Big Green Party to celebrate St Patrick’s Day the South African way. Expect dancing, live entertainment as well as some good old fashion drinking games.
In Johannesburg, the Chicago Piano Bar promises to celebrate like the Irish do this Friday. Pssst… if you wear green, you could win some massive prizes. If you’re in the mood to test your vocal chords, head to the Arcade Empire in Pretoria for a good old-fashioned sing-along party.
4. Book an Irish holiday
Do you truly want to get into the Irish spirit? Just book an Irish holiday!
Trafalgar is sharing the luck of the Irish this St Patrick’s Day by launching the #meanwhileinireland promo, offering savings of 12% on selected departures across three of its most popular series of guided holidays to the Emerald Isle. Or to book a fan-feckin-tastic trip to Ireland with Busabout contact an ASATA travel agent on (011) 280 8400 or visit www.busabout.com
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