As most probably know St. Patrick’s Day is an Irish holiday and is celebrating the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. It’s generally characterized by the attendance of church mass, lifting the Lenten restrictions of eating and drinking and, of course, by wearing green colored clothes. In the early seventeenth century, St. Patrick’s Day was mad an official day of celebration and has step by step become a celebration of the Irish culture.
But why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th of March? Why is the color green associated with this day? What have shamrocks to do with it and why are we celebrating it at all?
Let’s take a closer look at St. Patrick himself. St. Patrick was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century. When he turned 16 he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and deported to Ireland to work as a slave. The story tells that in a dream god told him to flee to the coast, to board a ship and to return to Britain. When St. Patrick returned to Britain he joined the Church in Auxerre and became a priest.
In 432 AD he returned to Ireland to Christianise the Irish. To explain the Christian doctrine of Trinity he used the shamrock so Irish folklore tells. After 30 years of Chrisitanising he died on the 17th of March 461 AD. After he died St. Patrick became the symbol of Irish Christianity and is held in esteem by the Irish church.
The original color of St. Patrick was blue but over the years green became the associated color with this holiday. Already since the 17th century people are wearing green clothes for St. Patrick’s Day celebration and accessories with shamrock-inspired design on them. The biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebration is held in a small town outside of Dublin named Downpatrick. This is the place where St. Patrick is believed to be buried.
St. Patrick’s is probably the most widely celebrated saint in the world. Also in the US, St. Patrick’s Day is widely recognized and celebrated by Irish emigrants or rather by their descendants. Since the late 18th century, prior to the American Revolution, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in America.
As the Irish would say: Kiss me! I’m Irish. Have a happy St. Patrick’s Day everybody.