WHAT IS ST. PATRICK’S DAY?
On 17th March every year, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by Irish and Irish Americans. It is celebrated to commemorate the death of Patrick – The Patron Saint of Ireland. It is celebrated on March 17th as it the death anniversary of Patrick. He died around the year 492, but this festival is still celebrated even today to honour the Irish heritage and its culture and heritage
WHO IS ST. PATRICK?
St. Patrick was the Patron saint of Ireland and the national apostle of Ireland. He brought Christianity to Ireland and is responsible for converting those living there – thus his life is celebrated.
St. Patrick was born into a Christian family in Britain, he was not Irish. His was named Maewyn Succat at birth. When he was 16, he was kidnapped from his father’s house and made a slave in Ireland. For 6 years he suffered but turned to God to pray for protection and then found a way to escape his master and reach back to Britain. He almost starved to death and was held captive again, but somehow was able to reunite with his family after that.
HOW DID HE SPREAD THE GOSPEL?
After Maewyn returned home, he had a dream telling him to preach the Gospel in Ireland. For the next 15 years, he spent his time in a monastery in Britain – studying and preparing for his missionary work. Once he became a Priest, he changed his name to Patricius. Then he went to Ireland to start preaching.
There were already a few Christians in Ireland at the time, but the country was mainly filled with Pagans. It was a hard task for him to talk to people and spread his foreign religion – but Patricius went from village to village and spoke about the teachings of the Lord and was very successful.
WHY DID THIS HOLIDAY ORIGINATE?
The holiday originally began as a Christian feast day to celebrate St. Patrick’s life and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.
HOW DID ST. PATRICK’S DAY REACH THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA?
In the 17th Century, many Irish Americans who arrived in the US had to overcome suffering. The Great Potato Famine of 1845-49 took the lives of around a million Irish. Those that could afford to escape, immigrated to the United States of America. They were barely educated and hardly had any belongings with them. They thus fell into poverty and faced discrimination. And since most of them were Catholics, they also suffered because of that. But the Irish Americans were strong and courageous.
During the Civil War in 1862, the Irish Brigade was formed. The Irish American soldiers fought for the Union of people and for their future. They wanted an America that would not segregate, discriminate or persecute the Irish because they came from a distant place and were Catholics.
So, it is celebrated in the US to recognize the Irish and Irish American culture.
WHY AND HOW IS IT CELEBRATED?
This holiday celebrates all things, Irish. Celebrations include public parades and festivals. In the U.S., St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in different cities, with festivities and parades. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in Boston in 1737. The most famous parades that happen annually are the Boston Parade, New York City Parade and the Savannah, Georgia Parade.
While St. Patrick’s Day was once a day of going for Mass, watching the parade with family and friends and eating a yummy meal with the family, it has now become the biggest party in the world.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SHAMROCK:
St. Patrick was the one responsible for popularizing the Shamrock – which is the 3 leaved clover. According to Patrick, he used it to teach the Irish about the Christian Holy Trinity (The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit). By using the Shamrock, more and more Irish started to favour him.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE COLOUR GREEN ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY
Originally, the colour Blue was associated with St. Patrick’s Day. But in the 17th Century, it changed. Green became more popularly associated with the fest. It is one of the colours on Ireland’s flag. It is also the colour of the Shamrock, Spring, and the Chicago River (which has been dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day since the last 40 years).
FACTS ABOUT ST. PATRICK’S DAY:
- St. Patrick’s Day is a National Holiday in Ireland.
- The first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the United States was held in Boston in 1737.
- The national flower in Ireland is the Shamrock.
- Green Beer is the most widely consumed beverage on St. Patrick’s Day.
- The First time that Chicago dyed their river green for St. Patrick’s Day was in 1962.
- St. Patrick was not Irish, he was British.
- St. Patrick’s Day is the traditional day to plant peas.