Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
You may or may not be Irish, but you certainly know it’s a day to put on something green, have a shot of Jameson’s or a pint of Guinness and dance a little jig. Perhaps you’ll even attach a shamrock to your lapel and go hunting for leprechauns.
March 17 is the traditional death date of Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland. Patrick was born around AD 385 in Britain, which was part of the Roman Empire at that time. When he was about 16, Patrick was captured by Irish pirates and taken from his home and forced into slavery in Ireland. He lived there for about 6 years before escaping and returning to his family. His time spent in captivity was critical to his spiritual development, eventually leading him to convert to Christianity and becoming a priest.
According to tradition, Patrick later returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. He spent many years evangelizing and tradition holds that he died on March 17 and was buried in Downpatrick, a medium-sized town south of Belfast in Northern Ireland.
So now you may ask, how do all the traditions come in to play?
Shamrocks typically have 3 leaves (4 leaves actually being rather uncommon). According to legend, Saint Patrick used the 3 leaves to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans.
Wearing green likely had no significance whatsoever during Patrick’s time. The color was widely adopted in the 17th century when a green harp flag hoisted by the Irish Catholic Federation. In the 18th century green became associated with Irish nationalism by groups that led the rebellion against British rule.
And finally the drinking. It is related to the fact that St Patrick’s day falls during the season of Lent – and the churches in Ireland, not wanting so spoil the holiday, remove Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking for the day. Jameson’s whiskey and Guinness beer are excellent stories to tell, but let’s save that for another day. How does sometime in September sound?
Come and make new friends as you tour the Emerald Isle