Latimer: I know Saint Patrick’s day is long over, but this year was the first I’d spent ‘off world’ and it was a little out of the ordinary!
I didn’t really expect to see any Paddy’s Day stuff in China and just as well because I didn’t. I had to explain Paddy’s Day to my Chinese guide. In primary school we all learned about Patrick from An Bhreatain Bheag (Wales, that’s what we were told anyway), and how he was kidnapped by the Irish slaver Niall of the Nine Hostages and taken to Ireland.
I got a bit of a way into this story and paused.
‘Well, Saint Patrick’s day itself is more about celebrating your Irishness’; the guide looked confused, so I carried on, feeling the weight of the whole of Ireland bearing down on me. ‘It’s for the people that went away’, I smiled, ‘you know like in China when people leave and then they want to feel connected to home?’
He nodded. I’m not sure I explained it well enough in the end!
It’s just an Irish holiday to celebrating your culture and where you come from, or just having fun (or craic – Irish for fun)!
I spent the day in a monastery! I had fun letting everyone back home know I was in a monastery on Paddy’s Day!
During the day I climbed the Giant Stone Buddha at Leshan, looking for any ‘signs’ of Paddy’s Day – haha, which I didn’t find!
There were no signs – no green, no shamrocks, nothing… BUT! When we got to the monastery to check-in we were introduced to our local guide.
Aside here: in China, people take Western names (like Tom, John, Seamus, Charles) so it’s easier for Western’s to say their names (their parents don’t actually call them John etc). These names are usually given to the Chinese people by their English teachers.
The local guide introduced himself; “Hello, my name is Patrick!” And I just started laughing. Brilliant.
So that was my Paddy’s Day in China – a simple name had me smiling all day!