Edinburgh Napier University

Tag: Christianity

St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all our Irish students and staff.

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on 17th March. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, but there are parades and parties worldwide due to the large numbers of people with Irish heritage spread across the world.

dog in st patricks day hat

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History of St.Patrick’s Day

Although there are no exact dates of his birth, it is believed that Patrick was born in the Roman-occupied north of England. and that he died on 17th March. His autobiographical work “Confessio” claims that when he was around 16, Patrick was taken from his home in Britain by Irish pirates who took him to Ireland as a slave. There he looked after animals for around six years and converted to Christianity. He fled captivity after hearing a voice telling him he would soon go home. He found passage on a ship and after several days walking he returned home. Following his return, Patrick studied Christianity in Europe-mostly in Auxerre, France and was ordained into the priesthood there. He later returned to Ireland as a missionary, and by the 7th century was already revered as the patron saint of Ireland.

The Irish Potato Famine

There are many people throughout the world with Irish ancestors due to the large numbers who emigrated because of the Irish Potato Famine. It started in 1845 when a fungus ruined around 75% of the annual potato crop, which most of the population relied on for food. Around one million Irish died before the end of the famine in 1852. Another million emigrated to countries such as Great Britain or the United States, and therefore you will find St. Patrick’s Day celebrated in many countries worldwide.

Celebrations

Today descendants of the immigrants celebrate their Irish heritage dressing up in colourful clothing in green and gold (the colours of the Irish flag), joining parades of pipe bands, cheerleaders, and floats. One of the biggest parades outside Ireland is in New York which held its first parade in 1762. This was a time when the wearing of green was a sign of Irish pride but was banned in Ireland. The parade gave participants the freedom to speak Irish, wear green, sing Irish songs and play the pipes to Irish tunes that were meaningful to the Irish immigrants of that time.

Aside from parades, many pubs and restaurants host events with live music and singing, and you shouldn’t have to look too hard to find one in Edinburgh!

By Vivienne Hamilton

Read more on world festivals and traditions with our articles:

Chinese New Year

Scottish Traditions: Burn’s Night

The Ethiopia Timkat Festival,

New Year Traditions from Around the World

Also, don’t forget you can find out more about everything mentioned in this article at Librarysearch.napier.ac.uk

 

 

The Ethiopia Timkat Festival

The Timkat Festival

Christmas is a distant memory for most of us, but for Ethiopians, Christmas is a whole season that’s just coming to an end now. Ethiopia was one of the first countries in the world to adopt Christianity, and as such it adheres to the ancient traditions that sit at the heart of its Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Timkat, celebrated every year on the 19th of January, is one of those traditions, possibly the most important in the Church’s calendar.

The Amharic word timkat means “baptism”, and the festival marks the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan.

Preparations

Timkat is a huge deal and a seriously religious festival. Preparations for this spectacular event, possibly one of the biggest and most colourful on the African continent, begin on the 18th, when “tabots” – models of the  Ark of the Covenant – are wrapped in fine cloths and carried on the heads of priests down to the river or other place of worship. Local people don white shawls – Ethiopians wear white when they go to church – and follow the procession.

The Festival

Mass starts in the early hours of the 19th and continues for hours. When Mass is over, the water is blessed and the congregants take to the rivers, submerging themselves in a re-enactment of Christ’s baptism. Of course, it’s a happy occasion and that means the celebrations go on all day and are accompanied by feasting and music.  As well as eating their favourite Timkat food, Ethiopians celebrate important occasions with elaborate coffee ceremonies.

On the 20th, the tabots are carried back to the churches in another procession that marks the end of the festival.

One of the best places to observe Timkat is the town of Gondar, home to the 17th century castle built by King Fasilides. In the grounds of the castle is a huge open-air bath. The bath is usually empty, but during Timkat it’s filled with water and the locals dive in. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to visit Ethiopia over the festive season. I missed Timkat by a couple of weeks. When I visited King Fasilides castle it was empty. Next time I go, I’m definitely going for Timkat, and I’m taking my swimming costume.

Want to learn more about other traditions from around the world? Read our article here.

By Lesley McRobb

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