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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Have you wondered how our holidays began? We’re going to step away from 1912 for the day in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and go even further back in time.

St. Patrick

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick’s Day, a religious feast day, is celebrated in honor of the work he did in Ireland to bring Christianity to the pagan people. March 17 was the date Patrick died in 461 AD.

So who was St. Patrick? He was born in Roman occupied Britain to a wealthy family around 387 AD. At the age of sixteen he was kidnapped and taken as a slave to the coast of Ireland where he was in servitude for seven years. During this time he worked as a shepherd, although there is debate about where he served. It is believed these years were spent in either the countryside of Slemish or Fochill. He later said that his faith grew strongly during these years and God appeared to him in a dream and told him to flee. After he fled he found a ship to take him back to England, where he studied to become a priest, after returning home to his family. In 432 AD he was called back to Ireland, by the Catholic Church as a Bishop. He was now there to bring the Irish pagans to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the trinity

Irish folklore tells us that he used the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the people of Ireland. Another legend says, “Saint Patrick had put the curse of God on venomous snakes in Ireland. And he drove all the snakes into the sea where they drowned.” Another legend tells us St. Patrick converted the King of Munster {a part of modern day Ireland} at the Rock of Cashel during the 5th Century. Whether these are true or not, they are great stories.

The Irish began to observe this religious holiday over 1,000 years ago. The spirit of the holiday is to celebrate the universal baptism of Ireland. Traditionally the Irish family would attend church in the mornings and celebrate in the afternoon. Since St. Patrick’s Day traditionally falls during the season of Lent, the prohibition against consumption of meat and alcohol are lifted for the day. A traditional Irish meal for the day is Irish bacon and cabbage.

St. Patrick’s Day became an official feast day in the early 17th Century and he is the most celebrated saint in the world, today.
The color of blue was originally associated with St. Patrick, but by the 17th Century green was worn in celebration of his life. The wearing of the green comes from the song with that same title and means the shamrock on one’s clothing.

Today St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated world wide as the Irish took it with them over the years as they immigrated. It’s a time of parade’s, drinking, turning the river green for the day, and singing songs such as Danny Boy and When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. How will you spend the day?

Rock of Cashel, where St. Patrick converted the King of Munster

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