It’s More Than Just a Green Sweater and a Parade

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One holiday celebrated in the month of March is associated with the color green, the Irish, shamrocks, leprechauns, and corned beef. You may have already guessed what holiday I am talking about – St. Patrick’s Day!

Every year people gather together all around the world to celebrate this holiday but why do we celebrate it, where does it even come from, and who is this St. Patrick guy anyway?

St. Patrick is one of the patron saints of Ireland. A patron saint is, by definition, a saint who in Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism or Eastern Orthodoxy, is regarded as the heavenly advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family or person.  It is believed that he died on March 17th around the year 461. This is why we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the month of March. His full name was Maewyn Succat and he was born in Roman Britain. After being captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland as a slave as a young boy, he eventually returned to his family and entered the church. While in captivity, Patrick wrote a memoir called “The Confession” where he explains that he turned to God to help him escape. Patrick claimed to have had a dream in which God told him he would escape Ireland by going to the coast (which worked!). When he got to the coast, he encountered sailors who took him back to Britain.

Saint Patrick often used shamrocks to explain the Holy Trinity and entire kingdoms were eventually converted to Christianity after hearing Patrick’s message. After 40 years, he preached, converted most of Ireland, and wrote many things about his love for God in Confessions. Years proceeding he returned to Ireland as a missionary and according to legend, rid Ireland of snakes.  It is suspected by many people the “snakes” referred to in these myths are druids or pagan worshipers of snake gods. This made him extremely popular in Ireland. He died in the place he had built Irish church in Saul. It is believed he is buried in Down Cathedral, Downpatrick but the exact place is unsure.