「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Happy St. Patrick’s Day

By Mike Dwane


English is full of slang terms for nationalities which, depending on who you speak to or how they are expressed, can cause offence. Under this nomenclature, Englishmen are limeys; Americans are yanks and the Scots are jocks.

And if you want to insult an Irishman, you can call him a Mick or a Paddy. These are derived from what used to be the two most popular boys’ names, Michael (my name) and Patrick (my father’s). Like in Japan, many traditional names have gone out of fashion here. Michael now ranks an unlucky 13 while Patrick, once No. 1, is out of the top 20 altogether.

Patrick used to be so popular because it is the name of our patron saint. We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a bank holiday every March 17th, a day on which every village and town in the country will hold a parade through the streets, if they have more than one. These processions are usually headed up by a man dressed as St. Patrick with a mitre and staff, the latter for chasing away the snakes. Legend has it that Ireland has no snakes because St. Patrick banished them!

St. Patrick himself wasn’t born in Ireland. Instead, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and sold into slavery some time towards the end of the fourth century. He would go on to begin the conversion of Ireland to Christianity and did such a good job that Ireland today is one of the most Catholic countries in the world.

Most of the schools are still run by the Catholic Church and state TV broadcasts the Angelus every day at 6 p.m. Until 1985, you could not buy condoms without a prescription from your doctor, and until 1995, you could not get divorced. Much has changed over the last generation and this year a referendum on gay marriage is expected to pass.

While it is still a religious holiday, for most people St. Patrick’s Day is an excuse to enjoy themselves, usually with alcohol.

The holiday is celebrated in every part of the world where the Irish have emigrated in large numbers, and New York holds the biggest parade in the world. In Chicago, they take the tradition of dyeing beer green to extremes by turning the Chicago River a shade of emerald on March 17th.

But you don’t have to have a huge Irish population to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day. In Tokyo a number of years ago, I was amazed to see they had allowed Omotesando to be closed off to accommodate a parade. I believe they are doing the same this year on Sunday, March 16th at 1 p.m. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!



The Japan Times ST: March 6, 2015

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




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