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Saint Patrick’s Day and Irish sayings Posted by on Mar 17, 2013 in Culture, English Language


Happy Saint Patrick’s Day everyone!  Today is the Irish, Irish-American, and Irish-at-heart holiday that celebrates the patron saint of Ireland: Saint Patrick.  Saint Patrick is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland, which is why he is the country’s patron or national saint. This holiday, which has its origins in Christianity as a religious holiday, has changed significantly from the way it was originally celebrated back when it first began.

Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17 every year and has been celebrated on this day for over 1,000 years in Ireland!  This day is the anniversary of Saint Patrick’s death in the fifth century. On Saint Patrick’s Day, Irish families traditionally attended church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. This traditional Irish holiday was brought to America with thousands of Irish immigrants. It was adopted by Americans of all origins, but now it is not celebrated as a religious holiday in the United States, but instead as a chance to party. Green decorations are often used on Saint Patrick’s Day, people wear green clothes, beer is dyed green, and even rivers in some major cities (like Chicago) are dyed green!  Other symbols of this modern holiday include: leprechauns, pots of gold, four leaf clovers, and other symbols of Ireland.

In order to try and retain some of Saint Patrick’s Day’s origins here I thought I would introduce you to some common Irish expressions.  Below is a list of Irish phrases and what they mean.

“May the road rise up to meet you.”  – I hope you succeed in the path you take.

“May the wind be always at your back. “ –  I hope your journey is easy. (If the wind is at your back, your journey will not be as difficult because it is easier to walk with the wind at your back than to walk against the wind.)

“May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.” –  I hope something good always come after something bad in your life.

“May your purse always hold a coin or two.” –  I hope you always have what you need. I hope you always have enough money.

“May the hand of a friend always be near you.” –  I hope that you always have friends around you, especially when you need them.

“Top of the mornin’ to you.”  – Good morning.

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About the Author: Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.