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St. Patrick’s Day

With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, we thought it would be a good idea to go over some of the basics of St. Patrick’s Day. The holiday is celebrated all over the world, but where did it originate, how did it come to be and who exactly is St. Patrick?

What is St. Patrick’s Day?
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated today as a day of feasting celebration. This is done in honor of the anniversary of the infamous missionary’s death in the late 5th century on March 17th. The Irish celebrate this day as a religious holiday as well, in honor of St. Patrick’s missionary work. The holiday is celebrated by the Irish with church in the morning and feasting and drinks later in the afternoon and into the evening. Although the holiday takes place during the Christian season of lent, a temporary prohibition on the consumption of meats and alcohol takes place on March 17th in honor of the holiday. St. Patrick’s Day has grown in popularity throughout the world. Many Americans celebrate the holiday because there is so much Irish heritage found in the great melting pot.
Who was St. Patrick?
Mostly known for his work as a Christian missionary in Ireland spreading the word during the 5th century, Saint Patrick actually had a very traumatic introduction the first time he stepped foot on Irish soil. As a young man, Patrick’s family’s estate was robbed by Irish pillagers. He was held in captivity in Ireland for six years. This was the time St. Patrick is said to have discovered God and Christianity, as he was not from a particularly religious family. His ever-growing religious beliefs helped him to endure his time spent in captivity. It also helped him gain the courage to escape.

St. Patrick eventually did escape and made his way back to Britain. Several years later, St. Patrick decided to go back to Ireland, this time on his own accord, to teach Christianity to the Irish peoples. This is how he eventually became the missionary and saint we know and celebrate every year on March 17th. Over the centuries following his life, St. Patrick became known for many fictional triumphs including the tale that he rid the entire country of Ireland from snakes, which really was just an exaggerated story.

St. Patrick’s Day in America
St. Patrick’s Day was first celebrated in America in 1737 in Boston. It has become a very secular holiday famous for shamrocks, wearing green, leprechauns, and corned beef and cabbage. While the Shamrock is believed to have originated by St. Patrick using a shamrock to explain the Trinity (how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit can exist as separate elements on the same entity) but why we wear green is a little unclear. It is thought the first color of St. Patrick’s day was blue but evolved to be green over the years. Green is one of the three colors of the Irish flag, Ireland is known as the Emerald (green) Isle, it is also the color of the shamrock and the color of spring.

Pinched if you are not wearing green? This is an entirely American tradition, not part of the Irish celebration of St. Patrick’s Day at all. Probably started in the early 1700s it was believed that leprechauns could not see green. Leprechauns were believed to be little fairy creatures that go around pinching people. Wearing green would keep the leprechauns from seeing and pinching you. People started wearing green to remind others that if they did not wear green leprechauns would sneak up and pinch them.

Why corned beef and cabbage? Cabbage has long been a staple food in Ireland, although it was originally served with bacon, Irish immigrants couldn’t afford bacon and started serving it with the cheaper counterpart, corned beef.

Many public schools and communities celebrate St. Patrick’s day with parades, activities, or other St. Patrick’s Day crafts and activities.