Saint Patrick’s Day is a day for anyone, whether you are Irish or not, to let loose and have a bit of fun. But how did St. Patrick’s Day become the big party that it is today with parades, kissing the Blarney Stone, lots of drinking and revelry in general? Well, let’s just say this holiday didn’t start out as one big pub crawl. The history of St. Patrick’s Day is much more modest than today’s celebrations would lead you to believe.
What Is Saint Patrick’s Day?
Saint Patrick’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick (“the Day of the Festival of Patrick”), is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick. Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century and is observed by the Catholic Church. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, céilithe, and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Christians also attend church services and the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day, which has encouraged and propagated the holiday’s tradition of alcohol consumption.
Who was Saint Patrick?
Patrick was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. It is believed that he was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church. At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland. It says that he spent six years there working as a shepherd and that during this time he “found God”. God told Patrick to flee to the coast, where a ship would be waiting to take him home. After making his way home, Patrick went on to become a priest.
According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. He spent many years evangelizing in the northern half of Ireland and converted “thousands”. Patrick’s efforts against the druids were eventually turned into an allegory in which he drove “snakes” out of Ireland (Ireland never had any snakes).
Tradition holds that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick. Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland’s foremost saint.
Why It Is Celebrated?
Each year millions of people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It is a national holiday in Ireland when people do not work but worship and gather with family. In the United States, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York on March 17, 1762. It consisted largely of Irish soldiers. Today, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by wearing green, which symbolizes spring as well as Irish culture.
Why Is St. Patrick’s Day On March 17?
We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 every year, but why is that? No, it’s not just to have a holiday in March, which is usually a dull month in terms of major celebrations. The date commemorates the day St. Patrick died, believed to be in A.D. 461. Upon his death, St. Patrick was mostly forgotten, according to National Geographic. However, a mythology grew around the religious figure, and by the 9th or 10th century, people in Ireland began observing St. Patrick’s Day as a feast day.
How People Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day
Despite its origins, St Patrick’s Day has since grown into a global celebration of Irish culture, with festivities (usually, involving a fair bit of drinking) held throughout the world. On the day, millions of people dress as leprechauns (bearded fairies from Irish folklore), consume green-coloured food and drink and attend public parades.
Many also wear shamrocks – three-leaved plants which St Patrick himself is said to have used to explain the Holy Trinity of God to the pagan Irish. The day is celebrated as a national holiday in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. However, it is also widely observed across the globe, especially in the UK, America, Canada and Australia. On March 17, the Lenten restrictions on eating meat and drinking alcohol are relaxed.
Why Do We Wear Green?
Believe it or not, the color of St. Patrick was not actually green, but blue! In the 19th century, however, green became used as a symbol for Ireland. In Ireland, there is plentiful rain and mist, so the ‘Emerald Isle’ really is green all year-round. The beautiful green landscape was probably the inspiration for the national color.
Wearing the color green is considered an act of paying tribute to Ireland. It is said that it also brings good luck, especially when worn on Saint Patrick’s Day.
Many long years ago, playful Irish children began the tradition of pinching people who forgot to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day and the tradition is still practiced today.
Also Check: Saint Patrick’s Day Quotes And Wishes