What is St. Patrick’s Day?

Well, obviously it is a day to party, drink green beer, go to parades, put green coloring in rivers, wear green and dress up as leprechauns. Well, at least that is what I see happening. What is St. Patrick’s day? It is supposed to be the cultural and religious celebration on the death date, March 17, of the foremost patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick (circa 385-circa 461).

He was known as the “Apostle of Ireland” who, when he was 16 years old, was captured by Irish Pirates, worked as a slave in Ireland, looking after animals. After six years he escaped and returned home to Britain. After becoming a cleric he returned to Ireland to help convert the Irish to Christianity, served as a Bishop, and in time was revered as the patron saint of Ireland. By the time of his death on March 17, 461, he had established monasteries, churches, and schools.

Many legends grew up around him like that he drove the snakes out of Ireland and used the shamrock to explain the Trinity. Ireland came to celebrate his day with religious services and feasts. St. Patrick’s day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland, Labrador and the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat. The first St. Patrick’s day parade took place in the United States. It was held in St. Augustine , Florida in 1601 organized by the Spanish Colony’s Irish vicar Ricardo Artur. There are many immigrants in the United States ever since The Great Potato Famine (when a fungus-like organism called Phytophthora infestans spread rapidly throughout Ireland.

The infestation ruined up to one-half of the potato crop that year, and about three-quarters of the crop over the next seven years) hit Ireland in 1845. Corned beef and cabbage are associated with the holiday, and even beer is sometimes dyed green to celebrate the day.

Although some of these practices eventually were adopted by the Irish themselves, they did so largely for the benefit of tourists. Why green? The color for St Patrick is blue. It can still be seen today on Ireland’s Presidential Standard and other ancient Irish flags.

In the 1700’s green replaced the blue which is more logical since Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle because of its beautiful green countryside.

“May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future.”

Irish Blessing

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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