Like every country, Ireland has a rich history of celebrations, holidays, and festivals. While some of them are shared by the whole world, like New Year or Christmas, others are solely Irish peculiarity, like St. Patrick’s Festival, Bloomsday, or the Irish wake. Each holiday has its traditions, which are cherished by the natives and amaze the visitors of the country. Irish celebrations include national, public, and bank holidays, and also numerous festivals and rituals.
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Holidays in Ireland
Festive activities are an essential part of Irish culture, and the country boasts of a vast number of them. The most important Irish celebrations are St. Patrick’s Festival and Bloomsday. St. Patrick’s Day honors the country’s patron saint and is held on March 17. This day is full of music and dancing along with food and traditional beer. The festival has become very popular and attracts millions of visitors annually (“The three biggest,” 2016).
Bloomsday honors James Joyce, one of Ireland’s most famous writers. This event takes place on June 16 and involves many activities commemorating Joyce’s talent (“The three biggest,” 2016).
The diversity of events in Ireland can satisfy the pickiest visitors: Cat Laughs Festival, Guinness Cork Jazz Festival, Dublin Writers’ Festival, Festival of music in Ireland, Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival, Galway Races, Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival – this is just a part of a long list of fantastic events attended and enjoyed by thousands of people (“Festivals in Ireland,” 2015).
The Irish Wake
The Irish have an unusual celebration of death called the Irish wake. The tradition combines the mournful part of a person’s passing away with the entertaining part when family and friends gather to honor the deceased. This “curious mixture” of Christianity and Paganism has survived in various customs (“Irish wake,” 2016, para. 1).
In the past, wakes started with female neighbors coming to wash the body of the deceased and get it ready to be put on a table, usually in the biggest room. The body was adorned with stripes of white or black. If it was a child, then the body was decorated with flowers. The room was filled with candles. It was a tradition for every man to take at least one puff of the tobacco placed there. This ritual was believed to prevent evil spirits from locating the body. The mirrors in the house were covered, and the clocks were stopped (“Irish wake,” 2016).
When the body was put in the room, it was never left unwatched for the whole period of the wake. Usually, men watched it at night. In the meantime, they would eat, drink, and sometimes even play games – an activity sharply criticized by the church. However, there was no disgraceful intention in such conduct – people were just following the traditions (“Irish wake,” 2016). The next morning, the body was taken to church – four men would carry the coffin: first, the closest relatives, and on the way, they were changed by others in turn.
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The traditions have remained almost unchanged over the centuries. Nowadays, when going to awake, people bring some food and stay from ten minutes to several hours, depending on how well they were acquainted with the deceased (“The Irish wake,” 2016). The purpose of the ritual is to honor the deceased person and offer condolences to the grieving family and support them in a difficult time.
Mental Health Rituals in Ireland
The Asylum system in Ireland has had an astonishing duration and extent. In the middle of the twentieth century, the country had the highest use of mental hospitals: 710 beds per 100,000 people (Brennan, 2014, para. 1). Mental health rituals in Ireland are connected with the notion of recovery. A ritual is a reverential ceremony comprising a sequence of actions carried out in an established structure. In mental health, recovery does not always presuppose complete restoration of one’s state in the usual meaning of physical recovery (“Recovery,” 2016). Many people view the idea of recovery as a possibility to have charge of their life in spite of suffering from a mental problem. In Ireland, the specialists in the mental health area call such way of thinking the “recovery model” (“Recovery,” 2016, para. 2).
While there is no strict definition of recovery, the Irish tradition determines hope as the leading approach. This hope is the faith that a person can return to a purposeful life in spite of mental problems (“Recovery,” 2016). Irish ritual recovery process comprises an integrated view of mental disease concentrated on the person and not on the illness signs.
The ritual of recovery highlights the fact that even if people cannot manage their symptoms, they still can manage their lives (“Recovery,” 2016). In Ireland, it is considered not to become free of a problem but to look beyond the mental difficulties, identifying and promoting people’s abilities, goals, and passions. Recovery may be a journey of self-exploration and personal development. Encounters of the mental disease may give people a chance for a transformation and finding new purposes, interests, and talents (“Recovery,” 2016).
Irish holidays have a rich history and are sustained in modern times by the majority of the population. While some rituals bear entertaining characters, others are dedicated to serious issues. Natives enjoy their cultural traditions and invite tourists from other countries to share their exciting events.
Brennan, D. (2014). Let those damaged by the Irish asylum system tell their stories. Trinity News and Events. Web.
Festivals in Ireland. (2015). Web.
Irish wake funeral service rituals. (2016). Web.
Recovery. (2016). Web.
The Irish wake. (2016). Web.
The three biggest celebrations in Ireland. (2016). Web.