Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17. Do you know why? This holiday has been celebrated in Ireland for more than a thousand years.
Saint Patrick was not originally from Ireland but was brought there from Roman Britain as a slave when he was a teen. He escaped and went back Roman Britain (England, Scotland or Wales) but later returned to Ireland on a mission to spread Christianity. He is believed to be the Father of Christianity in Ireland. He often used a clover leaf to explain the Holy Trinity — the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. According to legend, he also drove all the snakes out of Ireland.
His death is believed to have been on March 17 in the year 461.
The holiday is celebrated by dancing, drinking, religious services and eating special foods such as corned beef and cabbage and soda bread. The holiday was so important to the Irish that despite the holiday falling during Lent, the Catholic Church allowed parishioners to eat meat which was prohibited during Lent.
Strangely enough, the first Saint Patrick’s Day parade did not take place in Ireland but in the United States. It is commonly believed to have been celebrated in Saint Augustine in 1601.
In Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day was a religious holiday, originating with the Roman Catholics, but in America, it was just a time to celebrate.
In the early 1900s in America, the holiday turned political with the Irish using the parades to share their political views. In the 1960s they began turning the Chicago River green each year by releasing a hundred pounds of green dye into the river.
Many Americans wear green on Saint Patrick’s Day. Some believe only the Irish need wear green, but others believe everyone should wear the color or risk a pinch. In Ireland, pubs and bars were closed on Saint Patrick’s Day until the 1960s, but now, green beer is a favorite treat for many. These practices and others did not originate with the Irish but were later adopted by them to benefit tourism.