Despite having no idea what St. Patrick’s Day is about, many people all over the globe take part in the festivities that accompany March 17th. For the majority of people, this day comes as an excuse to drink excess amounts of alcohol with the chance to pinch anyone we see not wearing green. Although these traditions are fun, the holiday has much more symbolism in Irish traditions that date back to the year 493 when St. Patrick died. Legend tells that St. Patrick was a slave who was brought to Ireland as a young adult but grew up to enter the church following in his father’s footsteps. Allegedly Saint Patrick was able to rid Ireland of ‘snakes’, but many believe the term ‘snake’ was used to identify “pagan worshipers of serpent gods.” This celebration brought about feast within the Catholic church to honor St. Patrick and his noble deeds. Despite originating from a heroic act, the celebration has been hugely marketed as a drunkard’s day.
Against the stipulation of the Irish people being drunks, I can contest that they are far from it. I had the luxury of being able to visit Ireland a few years ago with my grandma and her friends, and I learned a great deal about Irish culture. For all of the pubs that scatter Ireland there are just as many churches that are adorned with intricate stone detailing and filled with courteous individuals. The Irish people are incredibly kind and generous, leading me to believe they would give me their heart and home if needed. Although I was unable to spend St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, I believe the celebrations overseas are much more commercialized than how the day is actually celebrated. Having the chance to mingle with the locals in Ireland, I discovered my otherwise plain existence could be easily enhanced with minor friendly gestures. The holiday celebrating St. Patrick’s Day symbolizes a unification of good and the collective good fortune of all people despite villainous masses.
Picture taken by: Meg Sibert-Hammis
Each holiday and its accompanying traditions have all been established with the hopes to bring people together regardless of previous backgrounds and personal affiliations. From trials and triumphs humans have experienced great feats that could have destroyed our way of life, if it were not for our spirit and unification. From my experiences interacting with strangers, there have been many times that I have not been welcomed, but more often than not I have found that people are more interested in making friends than enemies. Through thick and thin we must all accept that we live on the same planet and must find a common ground to settle on, as we all have the same basic needs. From battles and arguments, there have come treaties and agreements no matter how radical the differences seemed to be because there is no greater loss than that of our human connection. There is no guarantee that we will live after tomorrow and after a certain point we must all unite, for the rights of all humans to be who they are even when we may not agree with their ideals. In Ireland and throughout the world, people must work together to overcome famine and drought as there it is impossible to survive alone.
St. Patrick’s Day is one of the many reasons people make time to come together to celebrate being alive, where we can put our differences aside to enjoy good food and drink. While present celebrations stray from the traditional values of Saint Patrick, the collection of good tidings is supplemental to praying for a safer future. With each passing year our technologies become more advanced and our people more liberated for the common cause of the greater good. There may never be a time when the world can will come together for total peace and harmony, but as long as people strive to make friends and share happiness there will be a reason to share. There should never come a time when companionship is frowned upon, nor a day when a stranger is un-welcome in a happy home. As an old Irish blessing tells, “may your troubles be less, and your blessings be more and nothing, but happiness come through your door”. Friendship and happiness go hand in hand, but the necessity of holiday’s is to remind us of the importance of maintaining that connection for the good of all.
Picture taken by: Mary Bo Higbee Hardee