The History of Saint Patrick's Day
For many, St. Patrick's Day is well-known in the US as a day for shamrocks, wearing green, and feasting on corned beef, cabbage, and Guinness. This holiday, celebrated on March 17th, has been celebrated throughout various parts of the world in many ways. Some become more loosely associated with the patron saint and more so with Irish nationalism.
So, for those who love all kinds of green, celebrating St. Patrick's day also comes with some symbolic importance for those Catholic and Irish. St. Patrick's Day is also a day of recognizing turbulence and the campaign for preserving Irish culture and language.
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The Life of St. Patrick
Saint Patrick lived during the fifth century to wealthy Roman Britain parents, with his father being a Christian deacon. During the early years, he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at age 16 by Irish raiders. These raiders attacked his family's estate, and it wasn't until six years later that he escaped slavery. So far, it sounds like Patrick would bring himself to hate Ireland for these reasons. However, it wasn't until he returned to Ireland that he became prominent for his Christian teachings.
St. Patrick ultimately became what he was due to the various visions he would receive, where according to his writings, he had two visits during those six years in slavery. One vision spoke of him needing to leave Ireland, and the other spoke of him returning to Ireland as a missionary. Hence, during long periods as a shepherd in Roman Britain, he studied over 15 years of religious training and was sent to Ireland to convert the Irish. Patrick incorporated traditional rituals into his lessons of Christianity, and because of this incorporation, his word as a priest spread far and wide, transforming Ireland forever.
So, where does the story of St. Patrick running off the snakes of Ireland come in? The snakes represented paganism, and the story is more so used as a metaphor for ridding out paganism from Ireland and bringing Christianity to its green isles. Snakes never existed in Ireland to begin with, as the Ice Age and the progression of climate change did not allow for snakes to inhabit the area. Many legends are surrounding St. Patrick, but eliminating snakes from Ireland wasn't one of them. 🐍
How St. Patrick's Day Became a National Holiday
Even with St. Patrick not being canonized by the Pope, this national holiday wasn't recognized in an official capacity until the 18th century, when parades and feasts became more widespread throughout America. Because this holiday falls on lent, it provided Christians with a free-be-day from abstinence leading up to Easter. As modern-day celebrations took place, the Irish rebellion in 1798 officially made the color green associated with the holiday. It was previously blue that was used to celebrate the day.
The holiday didn't become official until 1903 and in many ways, the holiday became a political symbol for the Irish in American to create a sense of Irish-American solidarity. With the parade routes, drinking, and bagpipes, St. Patrick's day transformed over time into a symbol of Irish identity.
So, considering all the green celebrated here, how do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Let us know in the comments how you intend on celebrating this year! ✌