Russia and Ireland united by more than just St. Patrick’s Day
Posted by Kris Roman on March 17, 2008
Narine Prazyan for RIA Novosti
On March 17, people in every part of the world celebrate the Irish national holiday – St. Patrick’s Day. Legend has it that in the fifth century AD St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland and abolished pagan traditions. He is considered to be Ireland’s patron saint, and is a symbol of the Irish on a par with the shamrock and the harp.
His name is associated with many legends. One of them has it that he explained the notion of the Holy Trinity by showing a three-leaf clover to the people. He is also credited with introducing the alphabet in Ireland, and ridding the Emerald Isle of snakes.
St. Patrick’s Day is a mixture of Christian and pagan traditions. One of its main symbols is a Leprechaun – a faerie who is often dressed as a shoemaker, with a crooked hat and a leather apron.This holiday is widely celebrated not only in Ireland, but also in the UK, the United States, Canada, Argentina, Germany, Denmark, Mexico and even in far-away Australia. Picturesque parades are held on this day almost everywhere with Irish folk bands and dancers. By tradition, everybody wears green.
In Ireland, large-scale festivities are held on St. Patrick’s Day in more than 30 cities. In the United States, parades take place in all the major cities, including America’s most Irish city, Boston, as well as in New York, where the first parade was organized in 1762, and in Chicago, where even the local river is dyed green – the Irish national color.
St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated in Russia for several years now. This year, the holiday was preceded by the Festival of Irish Culture, during which prominent performers of Celtic music and dances staged concerts. On March 16, the now traditional parade was held in New Arbat Street. On March 17, a statue of the famous Irish author James Joyce was unveiled in the Russian State Library of Foreign Literature. The ceremony was attended by the Ambassador of the Republic of Ireland to Russia Justin Harman. James Joyce is one of the most prominent figures in 20th century literature; he is considered to be one of the founders of modernism, on a par with Kafka and Proust. Almost all of his books have been translated into Russian, including the controversial novel Ulysses, as well as his semi-autobiographical novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and the short story collection Dubliners.
When asked by RIA Novosti why St. Patrick has become so popular in Russia, the Irish Consul in Russia Peter O’Connor said: “St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday of Ireland, but it is in no way an exclusively Irish event – as we say in Ireland, ‘On this day everybody is Irish.'”The consul also explained the holiday’s popularity by the stunning success of the first parade in Moscow in 1992, and by what he described as Ireland’s “modern role as an exciting global hub for entertainment and business.”
Luckily, Russia and Ireland are united not only by the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, but also by close and fruitful cooperation in many fields.
Bilateral business contacts are developing dynamically. Brands such as Guinness and Bailey’s Irish Cream have long become popular and numerous Irish pubs like the Shamrock Bar, Rosie O’Grady’s, Sally O’Brian’s, Dublin and Belfast are never empty.”In the business sphere, Irish business people continue to prosper in Russia in a wide number of fields… Russian business in Ireland is growing as well, due to the unique investment opportunity of Ireland’s booming economy, and also due to the large number of Russian-speaking immigrants who live and work in Ireland,” said Peter O’Connor.Big Irish companies are increasingly interested in cooperation with Russia owing to its improved economic and investment climate.
Russian-Irish humanitarian cooperation has great prospects. Last January, Russia and Ireland signed an agreement on cooperation in culture, science and education in 2008-2010. Mr. O’Connor told RIA Novosti: “The most promising area of cultural cooperation is perhaps in the area of new media, particularly photography and film. An Irish film festival is planned to be held in Moscow on May 28-June 1, and a range of photography exhibitions will be brought to the Russian regions in 2008-2010.
“Russian-Irish political relations are also stable, which bodes well for the further development of mutually advantageous cooperation in all directions. It is encouraging that the Irish are gradually ceasing to look at Russia through the prism of obsolete stereotypes. They not only consider Russia a major investor in their economy, but are also actively working in the Russian market, fully aware of its huge potential and importance.
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