St. Patrick’s Day

Jenna Brady

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St. Patrick’s Day is full of parades, leprechauns, and plenty of green. But who even is St. Patrick’s? Is it just another excuse to party with friends and family? It is actually so much more than what’s on the surface.

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. It begins in Britain in the 400s AD where Patrick was born. When he was only 16-years-old, he was captured by Irish raiders. They attacked his family and took him, along with many others, back to Ireland where he spent his next six years. There, he lived his life as a slave until one night he heard a voice that he believed to be God. He knew then that he needed to leave. When he finally did escape, he went back to Britain first, then he went to France where he trained to be a religious father for 15 years. Once he became a bishop, he had yet another dream, telling him that he needed to go back to Ireland and teach them about God. In Ireland, he ended up making a lot of important converts, some of which included royal families. He is believed to have taught the Holy Trinity (The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) using a shamrock, which is where the symbol for this holiday came from. Throughout this period of teaching, he was arrested various times for teaching Catholicism, but escaped every capture. By the 7th century, he became a well-known legend. The holiday is celebrated on March 17th because that day is thought to be the day he died.

Although the history of this holiday is not very well known, there are a lot of traditions that have come from it. One of the most memorable traditions is the leprechaun. Many kids set up traps to try to capture this Irish fairy, but when they come back to see what they’ve caught, the room is often left a mess and the only thing they caught was treats. This comes from an old Irish legend that tells of a small fairy, but instead of being beautiful and delicate, he is ugly, tricky, and fat. Even though he is not that pretty, he supposedly brings luck if you can catch him. There is an alleged pot of gold that the leprechaun hides at the end of the rainbow. In exchange for freedom, he will give you his gold. This fable has led to the children’s tradition of setting up traps and bait for the leprechaun. Another tradition that came from this day is the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Even after St. Patrick was deemed a saint, the Irish didn’t celebrate this holiday the way it is today. Some took it as a day of rest and fasting. Even though some Irish-born American’s celebrated the holiday, it wasn’t very widespread or overly popular like it is today. However, after the Potato Famine in 1845, many Irish moved to America, particularly to New York. Naturally, Americans took this day as an excuse to party, drink beer, see friends, and eat a lot of food. Now, it’s a big holiday on an international scale.

What started as an old Irish day of fasting ended as a party with friends, family, and maybe even strangers. Although it originated because of its history, the celebrations have strayed from its original traditions. Nonetheless, everyone knows about the fun that little leprechauns and four leaf clovers can bring on St. Patrick’s Day.

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St. Patrick’s Day