Patron SAINT of Ireland - Saint Patrick
On March 17 each year, Ireland celebrates their patron saint, St. Patrick. This day is typically celebrated by people of Irish origin and Irish at heart around the world.
St. Patrick's Day, also known as St. Paddy's Day or St. Patty's Day, is a global celebration and particularly remembers St. Patrick, Ireland's patron saint, who ministered Christianity in Ireland during the fifth century. This day is not a federal public holiday in the US, but St. Patrick’s Day is a large celebration that comes with festive and colourful parades, gifts and lots and lots of alcohol.
Who is Saint Patrick?
Saint Patrick was born around 385 AD in the United Kingdom. His real name is believed to be Maewyn Succat (he took on Patrick, or Patricus, after he became a priest). When he was 16, he was kidnapped by a group of Irish raiders and sold into slavery in Gaelic Ireland. During his six-year captivity as a shepherd, he began to have religious visions and found strength in his faith. He finally escaped to France and became a priest - and later a bishop. When he was about 60 years old, Saint Patrick returned to Ireland to spread the Christian word. He used the shamrock, which resembles a three-leafed clover, as a metaphor to explain the Christian concept of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).
How Is Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated?
On St. Patrick’s Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink and feast – on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.
St. Patrick's Day was a pretty tame holiday in the beginning. In fact, it was a minor religious holiday in Ireland until the 1970s. Irish laws mandated pubs be closed on March 17 in Ireland every year until the 1970s. We can trace some of the modern revelry associated with St. Patrick's Day to the fact that prohibitions on eating meat, drinking and dancing during Lent were lifted for the day.
However, America is responsible for turning St. Patrick's Day into the big party we know and love today, which is not totally surprising. There's some debate over when the first St. Patrick's Day parade took place, but early celebrations happened in Boston in 1737 and New York in 1762. St. Patrick's Day celebrations continued to grow as more and more Irish immigrants came to the US, especially after the Irish potato famine hit in 1845.
Today, people of all backgrounds celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. New York's St. Patrick's Day parade is the world's oldest civilian parade and the largest parade in the US, according to History.com. Chicago is also famous for dyeing the Chicago River green every year for its St. Patrick's Day celebration.
There are celebrations in many small towns, big cities and bars across the country as in Canada and Australia. Although North America is home to the largest productions, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in many other locations far from Ireland, including Japan, Singapore and Russia.
What’s with the colour Green and Leprechauns during Saint Patrick’s Day?
There isn't really one reason why this is the official colour of St. Patrick's Day, but the colour green has a lot of connections to Ireland and springtime. It's featured in the Irish flag, Ireland is nicknamed the "Emerald Isle", it represents spring, and it's the colour of shamrocks, The Christian Science Monitor points out. And remember, if you don't wear green, you risk being pinched. That wholly American tradition comes from the idea that people thought wearing green helped ward off being pinched by leprechauns (seriously), according to The Christian Science Monitor. Leprechauns would pinch anyone they could see, i.e. anyone not wearing green.
Leprechauns are not real but leprechauns do have a rich history in Irish folklore. Tales of these little fairies were passed down from generation to generation. They were said to be "shoemakers who socked away their profits in pots at the end of rainbows, or scattered them around in mountains, forests, or rocks", according to TIME. It is said that people have looked for leprechauns to get a piece of that gold and because they're rumoured to bring good luck. Oh man. If only these little guys actually existed, how rich we all could be. Having said that, you could make yourself a Tropical Leprechaun to celebrate St. Paddy's Day!
Gift Ideas for Saint Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day is huge on gifts. Since this is of Irish tradition, it also becomes a reunion of sorts for those friends and relatives of Irish blood. You do not have to have Irish blood to celebrate and give gifts on St. Paddy’s, though! As people say,