Explaining St. Patrick’s Day

Here is a rundown of this popular Irish holiday; possibly shedding light on some commonly accepted myths and discussing the holiday’s origin and traditions.

St. Patrick’s Day, celebrated on March 17th, tomorrow, is the date commonly accepted as the day of St. Patrick’s death. The patron saint and national apostle of Ireland, St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish! According to research, he was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century to a religious family, having a father who was a deacon and grandfather who was a priest.

Kidnapped at age 16 by Irish pirates, St. Patrick found himself in Ireland where hemar-17-st-patrick remained in slavery for about six years before he escaped back to Great Britain. After becoming a cleric, St. Patrick returned to Ireland with the hopes of introducing Christianity to the largely polytheistic nation.

Celebrated today for achieving his goal of bringing Christianity to Ireland, St. Patrick has become a legendary figure well-known to not just the Irish but to people around the world.

Many are familiar with the legend of St. Patrick – that he is responsible for chasing all of the snakes out of Ireland. That is an interesting story while making St. Patrick sound like a fearless champion of Christianity; however, it is not true.

The legend probably came about as more of a metaphor for his ridding the country of its polytheistic religions and establishing Christianity there, which is now the country’s most dominant and prevalent religion, with the country being almost 90% Catholic.

CelticSt. Patrick’s feast day was celebrated by the Irish starting as far back as the ninth and tenth centuries. In the early 1600′s, St. Patrick’s Day was recognized and placed on the religious calendar of the Catholic Church, making the holiday a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholics in Ireland. The Church of England, the U.S. Episcopal Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America also celebrate St. Patrick on March 17th.  Others observe the holiday as a secular celebration of Irish heritage and culture.

Saint Patrick’s Day became an official public holiday in Ireland in 1903.  In 1995, Ireland established the St. Patrick’s festival in order to celebrate it as major annual international festival. so that the Irish people would stand proud.

With more people of Irish descent living in America than in Ireland, the holiday’s popularity took root in America, becoming a holiday that most Americans will be celebrating tomorrow.   Many other countries, including Argentina, Canada, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and Switzerland, also celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade to take place in America occurred in 1737 and was hosted by the city of Boston, which still celebrates the holiday with the U.S.’s third largest annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.

river-green_1394088741New York City reigns in at first with the nation’s largest parade (it used to paint the 5th Avenue street stripe green, but discontinued that policy); while only 5% of the city’s population is Irish, over 2 million people come out for the celebration.  The city of Chicago comes in second, with over 1 million spectators; the city even turns the Chicago River a bright shade of Irish Green.

Wishing everyone who celebrates St. Patrick’s Day a HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY, and don’t forget the “wearing of the green.”

Pop culture dot net, was used as a reference for purposes of this blog.

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