Cover story continued ... Patrick walked 200 miles to the coast, where he was able to board a ship and successfully make it back to his home country and his family. Although he had escaped the country, he couldn’t forget it or the people living there. After being told to travel back to Ireland by an angel in his dreams, he studied for the next 15 years to become an ordained priest. Then, he returned to Ireland. He spent the next 40 years spreading the Christian faith among the Protestant people until he died on March 17 around 460 A.D. His life has been celebrated ever since. H oliday C elebration For a long time, St. Patrick’s Day was seen as an exclusively religious holiday in Ireland. Irish law went so far as to order pubs closed on March 17. It wasn’t until 1995 that the Irish government saw an opportunity to use the holiday as a way to increase tourism and spread the joy of Ireland’s customs and culture around the world. Surprisingly, most of the traditions we associate with St. Patrick’s Day began in Gray Matters
the United States. In fact, the first recorded St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York was in 1762. Irish soldiers serving the British army marched a few blocks through the city to a tavern. Not only did this help the Irish reconnect with their roots, but it also brought them together with the other Irishmen serving in the army. Today, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the largest in the United States, with 200,000 participates and over 3 million audience members. W ait , T hat ’ s a M yth ? If learning that St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish or that the holiday’s seemingly traditional celebration didn’t even come from Ireland, there are a few other mind-boggling facts that surround both the saint and the holiday. Many of the stories told about St. Patrick are legends or myths. One of his best- known roles as the saint who drove out the snakes from Ireland was used as symbol to
exaggerate how St. Patrick “cleansed” Ireland from paganism. Another legend revolves around the shamrock. It’s said that St. Patrick used the shamrock to teach the Irish people about the Holy Trinity. After his death, people would pin clovers to their clothing to celebrate what St. Patrick stood for. This eventually led to people wearing green in their clothes instead of wearing the clover. Speaking of green, you might also be surprised to learn that the color wasn’t always used to symbolize St. Patrick’s Day. A shade of blue called “St. Patrick’s blue”was the color many followers of St. Patrick wore. You can still see St. Patrick’s blue in paintings of him, shown underneath the green we’ve all come to love. Now when celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, you can enjoy the festivities with a better idea of where the traditions came from. Don your favorite Irish gear and enjoy the celebrations!
Get your hands moving, and your mind will surely follow. (Note: Watching TV as a hobby doesn’t count! People who regularly watch TV may suffer up to 50 percent memory loss.) S ocialize If you want to maintain mental health, make socializing a priority. Having an active social life increases your resistance to mental diseases and improves your mood. Furthermore, a healthy social network of friends and family (and we’re not talking Facebook here) helps give you a support system to fall back on when times get tough. T ake a B reak Take a step back from your everyday life and enjoy the small things. Set aside time to sit down with a good book or another activity you enjoy. While on that 5-mile walk, why not take a few moments to slow down your pace and look at the world around you? As the famous saying goes, “Stop and smell the roses.”
Everyone faces the prospect of growing older. When it comes to aging, people’s primary concerns include aches, pains and their changing appearance. But perhaps even more important is mental health. Fortunately, there are ways to keep your mind sharp as you age so you can enjoy your retirement. E xercise Working out is inextricably tied to wellness in all its forms. A simple, light workout now and then not only maintains physical health, but it also boosts your mental well-being. A 5-mile walk once per week can increase brain volume and prevent mental diseases, including Alzheimer’s. It’s no wonder exercise is the go- to solution for maintaining wellness. L earn N ew H obbies Do you want to reduce memory loss by 40–50 percent? Dan Buettner, a researcher and best-selling author on studies about happiness and longevity, suggests learning a new hobby. Whether you learn to knit, paint, or discover a new board game, you’ll enjoy improved mental health.
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