Every year on March 17th, the Irish and pretend Irish gather to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick. In celebration of the holiday, we’re bringing you a brief history of how the once-religious holiday has grown into the worldwide celebration that it is today.
History of St. Patty’s Day
St. Patrick was a Catholic priest born in the later half of the 4th Century who is credited with converting the vast majority of residents living in Ireland at the time to the faith. For 20 years, St. Patrick traveled throughout the Emerald Isle, establishing monasteries, schools and churches that aided in his conversions. The day of his death, March 17th in the year 461, is the day now celebrated as the day that Ireland was universally baptized.
By the end of the 7th century, the legend of St. Patrick had become a legendary figure, and the legends have continued to grow since then. One of the legends involves the shamrock, which St. Patrick supposedly used to explain the holy trinity to converts. Another legend is that he drove all the snakes out of Ireland, an image that is rife with symbolism.
The Greenest of Holidays
Though originally a Catholic holy day established in the early 17th Century, observed by attending mass and feasting, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into a secular holiday that celebrates Irish Culture, both in Ireland and around the world. The devout still attend church services, and although the holiday occurs during Lent, when eating certain foods and drinking alcohol is not allowed, the restrictions are lifted for the day. While it’s not a legal holiday in the United States, it’s still widely recognized and observed with prominent displays of the color green, parades, and eating and drinking food and beverages from the Irish culture. St. Patrick’s day has been publicly celebrated in America since the 18th century.
If your plans to celebrate St. Patty’s Day this year involve drinking, make sure you designate a driver or find some other means of getting home. Otherwise, have a happy St. Patty’s Day and may the luck o’ the Irish be upon ya!