St. Patrick's Day is coming up and in order to do the holiday justice, it’s important to know what exactly we are celebrating. Oddly enough, this drinking intensive, party centered holiday is a religious and cultural holiday which celebrates the death of St. Patrick, who was the patron saint of Ireland.
St. Patrick was a missionary of the Christian faith, as well as a bishop during the 5th century. Originally, St. Patrick was not a overly religious boy, even though his father was a deacon of the church. However, at only sixteen years old he was kidnapped by raiders and held hostage in a community of sheep herders where he was treated as a slave and spent six years as a shepherd. Because of the isolation of being a shepherd, as well as a slave, St. Patrick turned to religion, and it was through this experience that he became a devout Christian. According to legend, the voice of God spoke to St. Patrick and helped him to escape his kidnappers, after spending six years their slave. After he had walked two hundred miles to the Irish coast, crossing the English Channel and getting back home to Britain, the voice of God spoke to him again, but this time to tell him to return to Ireland as a Christian missionary. Due to his conversion of the pagan Irish to Christianity, the day of St. Patrick’ death is celebrated, which is why we now have St. Patrick’s Day.
There are many traditions associated with St. Patrick’s Day such as the wearing of the green and the significance of shamrocks. This is because St. Patrick used a three-leafed shamrock to explain the concept of Holy Trinity to his converts. Green has also been the color most associated with Ireland and has thus been associated with this traditional Irish holiday. St. Patrick’s Day has also been considered a feast day since the early 10th century and has escalated in popularity and in scale since then. Now St. Patrick’s Day is a world wide celebration, that may have lost a little bit of its meaning in translation, but it is still a celebration of Irish culture and many populations can be seen wearing green on March 17th.
So while you are playing drinking games or out at a parade, just remember from where the holiday originated.