ERIN GO BRAGH! Yes, this post is on St. Patricks day. I am of Irish/Scot descent and do enjoy reading about the history and fantasy of the Emerald Isles.
I don't drink, so the common way of celebrating this day by most Americans is sort of lost on me. But, I believe that most Americans are unaware of the real history behind this day of celebration. Therefore, I am going to give you a history lesson today.
What is St. Patricks Day really? Who was St. Patrick? (Yes, I am borrowing this from Wikipedia)
Who is this Patrick?
Much of what is known about St Patrick comes from the Declaration, which was allegedly written by Patrick himself. It is believed that he was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church. According to the Declaration, at the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland. It says that he spent six years there working as a shepherd and that during this time he "found God". The Declaration says that God told Patrick to flee to the coast, where a ship would be waiting to take him home. After making his way home, Patrick went on to become a priest.
According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. The Declaration says that he spent many years evangelizing in the northern half of Ireland and converted "thousands". Tradition holds that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick. Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland's foremost saint.
Whats with all the green?
On St Patrick's Day it is customary to wear shamrocks and/or green clothing or accessories (the "wearing of the green").
St Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish. This story first appears in writing in 1726, though it may be older. In pagan Ireland, three was a significant number and the Irish had many triple deities. The triple spiral symbol appears at many ancient megalithic sites in Ireland.
The color green has been associated with Ireland since at least the 1640s, when the green harp flag was used by the Irish Catholic Confederation. Green ribbons and shamrocks have been worn on St Patrick's Day since at least the 1680s. Green was adopted as the colour of the Friendly Brothers of St Patrick, an Irish fraternity founded in about 1750. However, when the Order of St. Patrick—an Anglo-Irish chivalric order—was founded in 1783 it adopted blue as its color. This led to blue being associated with St Patrick. In the 1790s, green became associated with Irish nationalism when it was used by the United Irishmen. This was a republican organization—led mostly by Protestants but with many Catholic members—who launched a rebellion in 1798 against British rule. The phrase "wearing of the green" comes from a song of the same name, which laments United Irishmen supporters being persecuted for wearing green. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the color green and its association with Saint Patrick's Day grew.
Green Beer? (or, why all the drinking?)
The Feast of St. Patrick happens to fall on lent for those who recognize that tradition. Back during the early days of this feast consuming alcohol was off limits. Those limitations were lifted on the Feast of St. Patrick and so those people who were missing their booze would hit the drink hard, all day. This created an unintentional tradition of connecting Irish booze to St. Patricks day. The connection is actually quite a bit stronger in the US than it is around the rest of the world, though drinking is still a popular tradition in Ireland any time.
Thanks for taking the moment to learn and now for some of my favorite Irish musicians, The Celtic Women
Note: I am actually a Baptist and do not recognize Catholic saints in worship or prayer. Though, I do admire Patricks work in evangelism and I am also fond of my Irish heritage.