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17 Mar 2009

Saint Patrick's Day

Saint Patrick's Day is an annual feast day which celebrates Saint Patrick (AD 385-461), one of the patron saints of Ireland, and is generally celebrated on March 17. This day is observed by the people of Irish ancestry, the Roman Catholics, the Angelicans, the Easter Orthodox and the English-speaking countries. Normally, this day is celebrated by attending mass parades, wearing shamrocks, wearing green and drinking alcohol.
It is a national holiday for Republic of Ireland. In Canada, Great Britain, Australia, the United States and New Zealand, it is widely celebrated but is not an official holiday. So are Malaysia. Guinness (yup, the famous Guinness Stout @ 'O Kao' [in Hokkien]), an alchoholic drink synonymous with the celebration, took the famous feast to Malaysia for the first time in 2007, and had hoped that St Patrick's Day will be a huge hit. 2 years on, and now in the third year of celebrating, I can say that St Patrick's Day are on the way to become a huge hit. According to Eugene Hutchinson, the celebration is already well-known in Malaysia.

In 2007, revellers had the chance to adopt another Irish St Patrick's Day tradition by adorning themselves with shamrocks, leprechaun outfits and green hats as they dance the night away to Irish music, when this festival were first introduced to Malaysia.

In 2008, this day was celebrated with much gaiety at Plaza Mount Kiara. Since green is the colour commonly associated with the festival, folks decked in the colour. And those who came were treated to various games and international cuisines from various participting restaurants courtesy of Guinness, which served draught beer throughout the carnival. One of the highlights of the event was special guest chef Emmanuel Strooband, the popular host of Chef In Black, who showed the audience how to prepare the Great Guinness Sorbet, a dessert served at the participating restaurants throughout the celebration. The carnival took a more upbeat note when a group of dancers took the stage to officially launch the Guinness St Patrick's Carnival. Then, there were games and quizzes, acrobatic stunts by African group, musics by an all-girl band, before popular deejays got the crowd going with their spinning.

And this year, the KL Tower was all green for a night when Guinness launched the St Patrick's Day recently. Guests, trade partners and members of the Irish expatriate associations in the country who attended the event cheered and celebrated as they witnessed the occasion from the Hakka Republic restaurant across the road. Guinness have lined up a list of events for the celebration, with Guinness-serving outlets having a promotion of St Patrick’s Day-inspired dishes with sauces created by celebrity chef Emmanuel Stroobant. Exclusive limited edition St Patrick’s Day merchandise would also be given away free with every purchase of three Guinness Draught pints or a bucket of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout till March 31 at all its participating outlets.

Besides that, there were outdoor festivals courtesy of Guinness (again) with the celebration at Juru Auto City in Pnang on March 14, and the Central Park Avenue, New Wing of 1 Utama, on March 13, which kicked off at 6pm. This year's celebration at 1 Utama featured international entertainers, street acts, exiciting games and a variety of cuisine from all around the world. Central to the 'shamrockin' theme of this year's event is the headlining act, the Skybombers. The Aussie rockers were down for a one-night performance. The other highlight was the Dutch acrobatic troupe, Corpus, renowned for putting together awe-inspiring and energetic performances, combining acrobatic feats, choreography and music in dazzling display. And with a series of exciting activities by Guinness. Besides that, Guinness-infused cuisines, games and Guinness Draught were served at both venues.
And of course, one should celebrate the day with the Irish themselves (if possible lah)! Hutchinson, an ambassador of Ireland, hosted a reception for the Irish here, as well as Malaysian who enjoy 'a taste of Ireland'. You don't have to apply to the Irish government to become an Irish, because "Everyone is Irish on St Patrick's Day"!! So each year, all of us have a chance to become an Irish! :)
St Patrick's Day Trivia
-The enjoyment of Guinness is synonymous with St Patrick's Day all around the worl, with some 13 million pints of the black beer expected to be consumed.
-Shamrock or seamrog (in Irish) has been the symbol of Irishness since the 16th century when Irish Rebels adopted it as a symbol in their fight for freedom from British rule.
-The first recorded celebration of St Patrick's Day in North America was in Boston in 1737.
-The biggest annual parade occurs every year in New York City where it has been a feature of Fifth Avenue celebrations since 1762.
-The city of Chicago has been celebrating St Patrick's Day by dyeing its river green since 1962!
*The writer LOVE Republic of Ireland very much.

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