Let’s take a break from all the sad news and talk about celebration! As you probably know, Saint Patrick’s Day was last Tuesday, March 17. It is a day to celebrate Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, and for Irish to celebrate their heritage. We celebrate him on March 17 because it is believed t0 have been the day he died. He is celebrated because after converting and learning all about it, he spread Christianity all over Ireland. Although we may think so, he wasn’t Irish and his name wasn’t even Patrick! To learn more about that, the traditions, and why we wear green, keep reading.
Who was Saint Patrick and what did he do? Although we call him Patrick now, his original name was Maewyn Succat, and he later changed it to Patricius. He was actually born in a town in Roman Britain, not Ireland. He was kidnapped by Irish pirates and enslaved on the Emerald Isle. After 16 years, he escaped but was kidnapped again and taken to France. During all this, he learned lots about Christianity and continued to study the religion once he was free. Then he went back to Ireland and taught what he learned. Saint Patrick’s day may seem like a Christian holiday, but it is only celebrated as such in Ireland.
Many people think that Saint Patrick’s day is all about parades, beer, and wearing green. All of these are traditions now, but they aren’t all originally Irish. Parades have let Irish and Irish-Americans celebrate their heritage and feel welcomed as a part of society. Beer has become a tradition on this day, but it was actually started by Americans. Irish couldn’t buy beer on the holiday, as it was during Lent. Going to bars is a way to celebrate, so now they go to celebrate Saint Patrick. Green is worn to remind Irish that they were nationalists first, not because of the American myth that it would make you invisible to Leprechauns. There are many other traditions like a feast of bacon, cabbage, potato farls, and soda bread. Now that you know Saint Paddy’s day origins and traditions, you know why it’s such a fun holiday.
Story by Sarah Comer