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Everything You Need to Know About St. Patrick’s Day (including where to celebrate)

by Geraldine Cassells

March 17 is not just Ireland’s National Holiday but also the feast day of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, who is credited with bringing Christianity to the Emerald Isle in the 5th century. Being a traditional Christian country, Ireland insists on marking both momentous occasions with full gusto, which can often give the impression that it is celebrating as if there were no tomorrow.

I’d like to think that I’m partly qualified to talk about St. Patrick (Padraig/Paraic in Irish) as I can readily cite several examples of how this humble missionary’s influence has endured throughout the ages. My father, brother, uncle and nephew have proudly carried his name, while we bestowed it upon our son and sealed the deal by having him Christened on this day. Call him a crossover of Irish Celtic and Luxembourg Frankish tribes.

The Shamrock

St. Patrick used the shamrock, a common weed originally indigenous to Ireland, to explain the holy trinity with each leaf representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The three leaves of a shamrock are also said to stand for faith, hope and love.

The Shamrock has been adopted as the national emblem of Ireland.  Traditionally, Irish people wear shamrocks in their lapels on St. Patrick’s Day.

Setting the ground rules

There are a few things that need to be clarified, from the outset, to avoid bugging Irish people around this sacred time.

  • Under no circumstances are you to say, write, utter or even think “St. Patty’s Day” …a patty is a small flat cake. We will not be amused. Its best to stick with the original: St. Patricks Day.
  • The shamrock has 3 leaves not 4. Never 4. Ever. A fourth leaf is where we get the luck from.
  • Colouring your beer or rivers green will not impress us. I promise you. However, it will earn you several hard-to-pronounce titles e.g eejit, amadán
  • Please do not drop the E in Irish Whiskey, and I’m not talking additives. Whisky is for the Scotch variety and apart from the 6 shared letters, that’s where the similarities end.

Now that we have set the ground rules, we are all set.

The wearing of the green

It is wholly acceptable and encouraged to wear green from top to toe.

The wearing of the Green has taken on a new meaning thanks to a wonderful initiative, Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening. This global campaign sees some of the world’s most famous attractions and iconic images going ‘Green’ on March 17, Ireland’s National Day celebrations.

The greening of the Hotel de Ville in Luxembourg is most welcome, spectacular and quite emotional. That will take place on March 17 at 7pm on the Knuedler/ Place Guillaume in the city center.

Religious ceremony to celebrate the feast of St. Patrick

On Saturday March 14, a procession, led by a piper, will leave from the “Gëlle Fra”/Place de la Constitution at 10:40am and head to the St. Alphonse Church (32 rue des Capucins, Luxembourg City) for Mass at 11am.

The celebration will include traditional Irish hymns and Irish dancing. This will be followed by refreshments at the back of the church.

Some useful Irish words and phrases

We take pride in our heritage on this National Holiday, and we make an effort to speak the ‘cúpla focal’ (a few words) of our native tongue (‘as Gaeilge’ in Irish). Why not try some of these in the pub.

Happy St. Patricks Day
Lá Fhéile Pádraig faoi mhaise duit!’
Pronounced – Law A-la Paw-rick fwee vah-sha gwit’

St. Patrick’s Day wishes to all
Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh go léir

The Craic (pronounced Krak) was mighty
We were having great fun, laughter, banter, amusement

An Irish party usually with music, singing, dancing and plenty of craic

Buladh bos
Pronounced Boo La Boss
This means applause and spoken vivaciously as a “well done”.
e.g Buladh bos to the Royal couple playing Gaelic football and hurling for the first time.

Pronounced “slawn-cha”
Use this to say “Cheers”.
It translates as “Health.”

How to treat your tastebuds on this national holiday

St. Patricks Day provides a good excuse to indulge in some tasty, traditional Irish produce.

Smoked salmon, soda bread, “real” Irish butter (lashings of salt), a full Irish breakfast, whiskey and a pint of Guinness, affectionately known as the black stuff. I am not suggesting consuming all of the above in one sitting but if you do, March 18 might not be a good day to take a cholesterol test!

Check out Home from Home Luxembourg in Strassen to source these items. Click here.

Where to drown the Shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day

An age-old custom, but thankfully it is just an idiom and you don’t have to dunk any weeds into your beverage of choice. Drowning the shamrock means to drink alcohol on this holy day.

Here is a list of local Irish pubs which have lined up wonderful entertainment for us all. Please note that liberties have been taken with the number of hours that make up this day, and the count can stretch up to 120 hours! A miracle to which we can credit the Saint himself.

Éirelux (Irish Pub) – St. Patrick’s Weekend Celebration

When: March 13-17
Address: 40 Rue des Bruyères
L-1274 Howald
Click here for the flyer
For more the restaurant’s website click here.

The Pyg – St. Patrick’s Day Lunch

When: March 17
Address: 19 rue de la tour Jacob
L-1831 Clausen
Click here for more information

The Black Stuff – Paddies Day Warm Up

When: March 13
Address: 15 Val de Hamm
L-1714 Luxembourg
Click here for more information

St. Patricks Day At The Black Stuff

When: March 17
Address: 15 Val de Hamm
L-1714 Luxembourg
Click here for more information
For The Black Stuff’s website click here

Modern Irish cultural events

The St. Patrick’s Film Screening
The St. Patrick’s Film Screening, in collaboration with the British & Irish Film Festival, are screening the hilarious comedy from Northern Ireland “A Bump Along the Way” starring Bronagh Gallagher.
Date: Sunday March 22 at 17:00.
Venue: Cinémathèque de la Ville de Luxembourg 17, place du Théâtre L-2613 Luxembourg.
For tickets (€9), click here.

The Luxembourg Rose Ball
The Luxembourg Rose Ball will be held at the Parc Hotel Alvisse, Dommeldange/Luxembourg. Tickets cost 90 EUR and cover a Cremant reception, a 3 course meal with beverages, an Irish dancing performance, the 2020 Luxembourg Rose Selection and a Disco until 3am featuring Sam Steen of ARA City Radio. They will also run a fantastic tombola where all proceeds are donated to charity.
Date: Saturday March 28 at 18:30.
Address: 120 Route d’Echternach, 1453 Luxembourg
Tickets can be reserved by sending an email to luxembourgrose@yahoo.com
Click here for more information.

Closing thoughts

I’m conscious that the list of events above has shrunk since I began compiling the information for this article.  I would like to mention that Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann – Lucsamburg, the fabulous group of Irish dancers and musicians, had organised 2 spectacular ceilis/ Irish dances for this weekend, but cancelled both due to concerns about the spreading of the coronavirus in Luxembourg.

The Irish Government has decided to cancel all St. Patrick’s Day 2020 parades on the advice of health officials. The government endeavours to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Ireland.

I wish you and your loved ones a healthy and wonderful St. Patrick’s Day…for however many hours the Day itself lasts.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh go léir

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