Named after one of the patron saints of Ireland, Saint Patrick, this holiday which is celebrated on March 17th was originally meant to commemorate Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity to Ireland. Throughout the years it has turned more public, becoming a day of celebration of Irish heritage and culture.
Saint Patrick was born into a wealthy Roman British family in c. AD 385. At the age of 16 he was kidnapped by the “wild” Irish raiders and became a slave in Ireland. According to Patrick, he was told by God, in a dream, to run to the coast and escape on a ship back to his home. Upon his return he entered the priesthood and began his studies.
In 432, God again spoke to Patrick, this time telling him to return to Ireland. Patrick, now a bishop, was to bring Christianity to the pagan, “heathen” Irish. Over the next 30 years Patrick practiced his evangelism in Ireland, he died on March 17, 461.
Americans have been celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day since the late 18th century. However as early as the 9th and 10th centuries, groups of Irish in Europe were celebrating in their own ways. In the 1600’s the church put the holiday, officially, on their calendars. It became a public holiday in Ireland in 1903.
Originally, blue was the color associated with St. Patrick. But, over the years, green has taken over. “The wearing of the green” means to wear a shamrock on one’s person. This symbol of St. Patrick is based on an Irish folk legend. It states that St. Patrick explained the Holy Trinity to the Irish by using the Shamrock. This little green plant has become the symbol of not only the holiday, but of the whole Irish nation.
Throughout the world countries hold parades, parties, and festivals that can last a single day to almost two weeks. Depending on the amount of Irish who may live in a nation or area depends on how intense and outrageous the celebrations can get. Here, in Syracuse, we have many different dates and celebrations that culminate on March 17th!
Luck of the Irish to ye! Hope you have a very happy St. Patrick’s Day!