If you’re donning green or downing Guinness in a pub today, chances are you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
While the Irish may be known for their superior imbibing skills, the 17th of March is a day celebrated not just for “pubbing” around and wearing green but it actually started from rather humble beginnings. 🙂
Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. He was born around 385 ad into a noble family in Britain. It is said that he was kidnapped by Irish pirates as a teenager and spent 17 years in slavery.
During slavery, it is said that Saint Patrick became religious after previously being an atheist. He managed to escape to Britain but decided to return to Ireland as a missionary and spread Christianity to the Irish. He was not the first to introduce Christianity to the Irish but he was credited with baptizing the Druids at the Holy Wells in Tara and having them abandon their pagan ways.
Some symbols used to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day are:
- The colour green. It’s the colour used to represent Ireland and the Irish. Ireland is also known as the Emerald Isle for its lush green fields. There is an island in the Caribbean also called the Emerald Isle, its name is Montserrat. In the mid 1600’s it was inhabited by about 70% Irish settlers during British Colonial rule. St. Patrick’s Day is still observed there and is celebrated. It’s considered good luck to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.
- The Shamrock: This is the common name given to several different kinds of 3 leaf clovers indigenous to Ireland. The Shamrock is considered a good luck symbol.
- The Celtic Cross: Saint Patrick is said to have added the symbol for the sun (which was a powerful traditional symbol to the Irish before Christianity) to the traditional Christian cross. He thought it would be better if the Irish retained some of their cultural beliefs while integrating new ones.
- The Leprechaun: This is an Irish fairy who looks like a small, old man about 2 feet tall. He is often dressed like a shoemaker, with a crooked hat and a leather apron.According to legend, leprechauns stick to themselves and are not very friendly. They live alone, spending all their time making shoes. They’re also said to have hidden pots of gold and are often being pursued by treasure hunters.
It is believed that Saint Patrick died on 17th March in the year 461.
In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day was mostly celebrated as a small religious holiday or Feast day. It was during the 1970’s that Irish Americans held big celebrations in observance of St. Patrick’s Day as a means of celebrating their cultural ties to Ireland. The practice spread and was adopted by many other states and cities where there were large Irish populations.
Whether you’re Irish, descended from Irish, living in Ireland, like Irish culture or appreciate a good pint ‘o Guinness and a reason to celebrate, here’s hoping you have an enjoyable St. Paddy’s Day!