Whilst it’s still St Patrick’s day (only just and for those of you reading this on Friday why weren’t you up reading this during the night with the dozen other readers), I thought it would be worth saying a few words about it.
Many people wonder why it’s so popular when the English St George’s day struggles to get even the smallest amount of recognition. I think one of the reasons is because it has one simple concept that any event can use as a hook. The colour green. There are a few other hooks which are recognised by many people around the world. Leprechauns, clover, and Guinness.
It’s success isn’t due to St Patrick being Irish either. A bit like St George not actually being British but is still the patron saint of the country, St Patrick wasn’t Irish. He was British, born around AD 390. It was only when he was 16 that he was kidnapped and sent to Ireland as a shepherd for seven years. During this period he became a Christian and then escaped back to England. But then he went back to Ireland where he spent the rest of his life trying to convert the Irish to Christianity. Only a long time after his death and after myths grew about him did he become the patron saint of Ireland.
But having a few simple concepts doesn’t make St Patrick’s day a success. What has helped the most is probably Irish-Americans celebrating their homeland and their Irishness. This kicked off the tradition of having the marching bands and the all the other things that are quintessentially Irish.
England has such a hotch potch of ideas and concepts that it would be difficult to base any St George’s day on it. England has been a melting pot ever since the Romans in 43, then the Vikings around 800, then the AngloSaxons in 1066, then the French in 1199 invaded the country and its lands and left bits of their cultures behind. Ireland had it lucky, only being invaded a few times and because it was so far away it didn’t have many foreign invaders settling in the land.
If St George’s day is to kick off here in England then a single simple concept needs to arise as a meme from the general public. Imposing a concept by state decree for St George’s day would not work. State imposed ideas never work.
Anyone got any ideas?