Saint Patrick day or the feast of Saint Patrick is a tribute to the patron saint of Ireland who’s thought to have brought Christianity to the Irish people. But how much is really know about the holiday’s origins, traditions and patron? There is currently a huge difference in how this holiday is celebrated across the world. The most popular practice is to cut loose, wear green or gold and get into some serious drinking. For many others it’s a spiritual time of renewal and, in honor of St. Patrick’s work, praying for missionaries worldwide.
This Irish holiday is a bona fide global event which is observed from Australia to Canada and Russia to South Korea. With such a widespread influence we have to ask ourselves who really was this Christian figure Saint Patrick?
Most of what we know about Saint Patrick comes to us from his own writings. His two best known works are an autobiography titled Confessio, where he writes of how God spoke to him, and Epistola, his thoughts on how the British were mistreating the Christians in Ireland.
We believe that Saint Paddy was possibly born Maewyn Succat and lived from AD 385 − 461. The holiday is on March 17 because that’s when he was believe to have died.
Saint Patrick was raised in Roman Britain in a wealthy Christian family. He was kidnapped and forcibly taken to Ireland when he was sixteen years old. While captive, he later wrote in his autobiography, he was instructed by God to escape and return to Britain. After six years in captivity he was able to escape and return home. He later became a priest.
In his late 40’s he returned to Ireland as a bishop. His mission was one amongst many that tried to Christianize the Irish people. This became his life’s work. He is now held as the beacon for Irish Christianity and an icon within Irish heritage and culture. He is widely believed to be buried in Downpatrick, Ireland.
Even though his life has been celebrated for so long years, here are 3 things you may not know about Saint Patrick Day.
Leave a comment below if you have a fun fact, folklore or Irish tradition that you’d like to add.
1. Green is The New Blue
We associate Saint Patrick day with the color green. From the shamrocks, t-shirt and hats, green dyed beer or milk. It is a fact though that blue started off as the color of choice. The change to green is believed to have happened as early as the 17th century, possibly with the association with the shamrock and further popularized through a song titled, “the wearing of the green”.
2. What’s So Special About The Three-Leaved Shamrock?
We touched on the shamrock, also called a clover, and we probably are all familiar with this plant. The shamrock, or clover, is traditionally worn along with ribbons and other Irish cultural items on Saint Patrick day. In general it’s linked to luck and leprechauns but this isn’t why its a Saint Patrick day staple. The three-leaved shamrock is singled out on the feast of Saint Patrick as it’s said that he used this clover to explain the Christian Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit to the Irish people.
3. Shortest Saint Patrick Day Event
Although an official holiday since 1976, the first St. Paddy’ day festival was in 1996. It started off as a small 3 day event. By 2010 it had blossomed into a spectacle with over 1 million participants, outdoor public events, performances and fireworks. In Downpatrick, Ireland this festival is held for a full week. This is in huge contrast to Dripsey, Cork, where the festivities happen within 100 yards. The distance between the only two pubs in the village.
Bonus: Everyone’s A Little Irish on St. Paddy’s Day
The spread of the Irish culture and traditions is widely attributed to the spread of the Irish people across the globe. A popular phrase is “everyone is a little Irish on Saint Patrick Day”. With nearly 34 million Irish in the United States alone, here are three well known figures you may not have known were Irish:
- Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company
- Judy Garland, popularly known for her role as Dorothy in the iconic “The Wizard of Oz”
- John F. Kennedy, 35 President of the United States.
An Irish Blessing To Set You Off
With a little background knowledge, I hope this enhances your Saint Patrick day festivities and gives you something deeper to celebrate. As you plan to enjoy your traditions with loved ones here’s an Irish blessing for you:
“May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warmly upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.”
How are you planning on celebrating your Saint Patrick Day? Let me know below.