St. Patrick's Day History

We often find ourselves celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at a party or a bar, but do we even really know what this day is all about?

Saint Patrick is the beloved patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick was born in Britain but at 16 was captured by Irish raiders who attacked his family. He then was held captive in Ireland for six years, where he lived a solitary life as a shepherd. That is when he became a devoted Christian.

He once wrote that God had told him in a dream to leave Ireland; so he did, by walking nearly 200 miles.

He then  studied for 15 years and was  ordained a priest and  sent to Ireland with the mission to convert pagan Irish to Christianity. Because he was familiar with the Irish culture and language, he incorporated his knowledge into his teachings. That is how the celtic cross was born: Patrick superimposed the sun, a strong an important figure to the Irish, into the cross.


So, why do we celebrate it?

Although Irish Americans were not the first to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, in 1737, Americans celebrated their first feast and religious service in honor of the “Apostle of Ireland”. The Charitable Irish Society of Boston celebrated this holiday in the colonies to honor the Irish culture that many had been separated from.

Later on they held a parade in New York City on March 17, 1762. But, there is more to that. This parade helped homesick Irish soldiers to connect with their roots and with one another. This parade also served as a display of solidarity and political strength because irish immigrants were often prejudiced.

In the modern day, St. Patty’s Day is less religious, but more of a show for Irish strength and patriotism.


Why green?

Catholic priests wear green on “regular” Sundays and the “Ordinary Time” of Church. Since Patrick was a catholic priest and Ireland was “The Emerald Isle”, green became the dominant color for this celebration.

It was also known that Saint Patrick used the three leaf shamrock to teach the Irish about the Holy Trinity.


Dance and music

We have all heard of leprechauns. These two to three feet tall beings, are known for being shoemakers, but also for loving Irish traditional music, dancing their traditional dance… and drinking. They are not drunks (don’t confuse them with their cousins, the Cluricauns!), but they do love drinking Irish Poitín, an illegal drink in Ireland without license.


Fun facts:

It was officially made a holiday in 1903.

In 1940, the St. Patrick’s Day celebration was moved by the Catholic Church Authorities so it didn't fall on Palm Sunday.

The first Irish St. Patrick’s Day festival was held in 1996.

In 2008 the celebration was also moved so it didn’t fall on Holy Monday, the last Monday before Easter.

Although it was thought that leprechauns originally wore red, they were evolutionized and now wear green! They also are great shoemakers because they ruin the ones they own constantly because of the nonstop dancing!


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