For many of us, the month of March brings the promise of spring and the (hopeful) end of a long, cold winter. For holiday enthusiasts, lovers of green, and people of Irish descent, the pivotal moment of March really happens on St. Patrick’s Day. On March 17th every year, millions of people around the world, decked out in all shades of green and laden with shamrocks for good luck, come together for a day created to honor St. Patrick. How much do you really know about the man behind this holiday? Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, and although he lived in the 5th century, his legend and stories of his legacy live on. He was born in what was known as Roman Britain and kidnapped into slavery when he was a teenager. The story goes that he escaped but then returned to Ireland after experiencing a religious conversion. He is credited for bringing Christianity to Ireland, and for using the three leaves of the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to Christians. Legend also has it that St. Patrick banished snakes from Ireland, which we understand today as a symbolism for evil, as there were never snakes on the island. Although he was not celebrated until long after his death, St. Patrick is now remembered for his humble and gentle spirit. Until the 1970s in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day was more of a quiet, religious holiday honoring St. Patrick as part of the traditional Catholic feast day. How did St. Patrick’s Day become so popular in the United States? Much of what we now associate with St. Patrick’s Day was formed from years of Irish American immigrants celebrating the holiday in America and giving it their own twist. For example, the “traditional meal” of corned beef and cabbage stems from Irish immigrants in New York City substituting Irish bacon for corned beef to save money. Oh and why green? In fact, the original color associated with St. Patrick was blue, however due to the color of the much of the landscape in Ireland, especially those springtime clovers, green quickly became associated with Ireland, Irish culture, and Irish identity in the United States. Today, in many big cities across the U.S. and the world, people take part in parades, parties, and festivals that celebrate Irish roots, camaraderie, and a sense of community.
How will you be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? Whether it’s with friends or family, here are 3 things you should do on St. Patrick’s Day:
1) Wear Green- If not, you could be pinched. Believe it or not, plenty of people are still childish enough to do this. If you’re not Irish, no worries, everyone gets to participate!
2) Have Fun- You can have a good time without partying. If you chose to partake in some of the other festivities associated with this holiday, remember to drink water! Overall, this is a fun holiday, so be safe and don your green attire in an enthusiastic way!
3) Spread the Word- Tell people about all that you have learned about St. Patrick from this blog. After all, this is his day, and you could end up wowing your friends with your Irish history knowledge!
As an Irish American myself, I will definitely be taking full advantage of this fun holiday. As the Irish say, “Erin Go Bragh”, which translates to “Ireland Forever”…Happy St. Patrick’s Day!