Famous for being the day you could get pinched if you’re not wearing green, St. Patrick’s Day takes place each year on March 17. But exactly is it all about?
What it is: The feast day of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland.
St. Patrick? Who?Patrick was born in the late 300s CE in–surprise!–Britain, which was at that time part of the Holy Roman Empire. As a teen he was kidnapped from his family and taken to Ireland as a slave. During his captivity he embraced Christianity and eventually escaped and undertook a perilous journey back to Britain. Later, he had a dream or vision that he should return to Ireland to spread his faith. Patrick died in Ireland sometime in the 5th Century. (Many biographical details of St. Patrick’s life are unclear. In fact, the story of St. Patrick may have been taken from two separate individuals and merged together. For more information, check out some of the Library’s books or online encyclopedias.)
Wait. I’m recalling something about snakes. Several legends about St. Patrick sprung up after his death. One says that he drove all the snakes out of Ireland to their watery deaths in the sea. According to modern day science that’s just not true. In fact, there were apparently no snakes even in Ireland! Legend also has it that he picked the shamrock (not to be confused with the elusive four leaf clover) as a symbol of the Holy Trinity.
Great. Let’s celebrate! Today, St. Patrick’s Day is observed around the world with parades, feasts, and other festivities. Perhaps you’ve seen the Chicago River being dyed green? For something closer to home, check out some of these Seattle events. Luck o’ the Irish to ya!
It is time once again for the annual extravaganza that is the Academy Awards. This year marks the 87th edition of the venerable awards show that honors excellence in film. Oscars will be handed out in 24 categories beginning at 5:30pm PST on Sunday, February 22, with the red carpet starting earlier in the day. Got your ballot all filled out?
Did you know that the show was not always the spectacle that is is today?The first ceremony was held in 1929 at the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles and was attended by just 270 guests. The winners were no surprise–they had been announced three months earlier! Although the Academy soon kept more control over the results, it was not until the 1940s those fancy sealed envelopes came into play.
And what about the award itself?We know it as the Oscar, though its official name is the Academy Award of Merit. How the Oscar got its name is not totally clear, but the most well-known story has a local connection. A woman named Margaret Herrick, born in Spokane and a graduate of the University of Washington, was the Academy’s first librarian. She is said to have remarked that the statuette looked like her uncle Oscar and the name stuck. And speaking of the statuette, ever notice that many winners seem to have trouble handling their Oscar? Well, that’s because each statuette weighs 8.5 pounds!