The feast of St. Patrick is celebrated on March 17.
Saint Patrick (387-461) is the Patron Saint of Ireland
The Life of Saint Patrick
As a boy, St. Patrick was kidnapped from Britain and taken to Ireland as a slave. Several years later he heard the voice of God telling him how to escape. He eventually returned to convert the Irish people to Christianity. He died March 17th, 461 in Saul, County Down, Ireland, but was buried in the nearby town of Downpatrick, Country Down, Northern Ireland on Down Cathedral’s Cathedral Hill; visitors can visit the Saint Patrick Visitor Centre to learn about the saint.
Symbols of St. Patrick
To help the Irish people get used to the idea of Christianity, St. Patrick explained the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) using the three leaves of the Irish shamrock (clover) and possibly creating the Celtic cross by adding a sun or sun cross to the Christian cross.
Besides the shamrock, snakes are also a symbol of Saint Patrick, because he is thought to have chased the snakes out of Ireland. In National Geographic’s article “St. Patrick’s Day Facts: Snakes, a Slave, and a Saint” by John Roach, “classics professor Philip Freeman of Luther College in Iowa,” author of Saint Patrick of Ireland: A Biography, explains that the stories of Saint Patrick “were likely spread by well-meaning monks centuries after St. Patrick’s death”:
It’s true no snakes exist on the island today, Freeman said. But they never did.
Ireland, after all, is surrounded by icy ocean waters—much too cold to allow snakes to migrate from Britain or anywhere else.
But since snakes often represent evil in literature, “when Patrick drives the snakes out of Ireland, it is symbolically saying he drove the old, evil, pagan ways out of Ireland [and] brought in a new age,” Freeman said (Roach, John. “St. Patrick’s Day Facts: Snakes, a Slave, and a Saint.” National Geographic News. 16 March 2009.)
Green is also associated with Saint Patrick and Ireland,
But in Ireland the color was long considered to be unlucky, says Bridget Haggerty, author of The Traditional Irish Wedding and the Irish Culture and Customs Web site.
As Haggerty explains, Irish folklore holds that green is the favorite color of the Good People (the proper name for faeries). They are likely to steal people, especially children, who wear too much of the color. (Markey, Sean. “St. Patrick’s Day Fast Facts: Beyond the Blarney.” National Geographic News. 13 March 2006)
St. Patrick was traditionally associated with blue:
St. Patrick’s blue, a lighter shade can still be seen on ancient Irish flags and was used on armbands and flags by members of the Irish Citizen Army, whose 1916 Easter Rising attempted to end British rule. But the use of green on St. Patrick’s Day began during the 1798 Irish Rebellion, when the clover became a symbol of nationalism and the “wearing of the green” on lapels became regular practice. The green soon spread to uniforms as well. That evolution, combined with the idea of Ireland’s lush green fields, eventually made blue a thing of the past. (Romero, Frances. “10 Things You didn’t Know About St. Patrick’s Day: St. Patrick’s Blue.” Time Specials. 16 March 2010)
Saint Patrick’s Day in anime (or lack of)
St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t show up in animes. Irish folk are rarely even in animes; most foreigners are just clumped together, but if they do have a nationality, most are English or American. So one might think that they don’t celebrate St Patty’s Day (not like American cartoons have Irish characters or anything, but hey, can’t say I ever really thought about if it was or was not celebrated in other countries until I started writing this post), but that is not true apparently; the Japanese have St. Patrick’s Day Parades too. Surprisingly, the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held in the US, not Ireland, in 1762:
“Until the 1970s, St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland was a minor religious holiday…Eighteenth-century Irish soldiers fighting with the British in the U.S. Revolutionary War held the first St. Patrick’s Day parades. Some soldiers, for example, marched through New York City in 1762 to reconnect with their Irish roots” (Roach).
But back to anime, there actually are a couple of Irish anime characters and animes with Irish settings:
Irish Anime Characters:
- Neil Dylandy and Lyle Dylandy from Mobile Suit Gundam 00
- Leigharch from Black Lagoon
- Irish from Case Closed: The Raver Chaser (Is he Irish?)
- Canon Memphis (Kanon Hazama?) from Fafner
- Lancer/Cúchulainn, an Irish mythological hero, from Fate/Stay Night
- Lancer/Diarmuid Ua Duibhe (and Fionn mac Cumhaill episode 9), two more Irish mythological characters, from Fate/Zero
- Kigeki (Comedy): An 10-minute short set during the Irish War of Independence. A little girl goes out in search of the Black Knight who she hopes to pursued into saving her town using a book as payment.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Double Zeta (ZZ): colony falls on Dublin in Episode 33“Afternoon in Dublin”
- Fractale: futuristic Ireland with “certain scenes…directly taken from Galway city in the west of Ireland”