History of St. Patrick's Day
Would you believe that the patron saint of Ireland isn’t even Irish? I bet you wouldn’t, though it is a holiday known in most parts of the world, the history of the man who we celebrate it in honor of, is unknown to most.
St. Patrick’s Day
To start the date chosen, March 17th is the date of St. Patrick’s death which occurred sometime during the fifth century. In Ireland it has been observed as a religious Catholic holiday for over 1,000 years and occurs during the season of Lent. Families all across Ireland would attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon by viewing their local St. Patrick’s Day parade. While you may not consume meat during the Lent season, this was waived for the day as the Irish would take part in dancing, drinking and eating their traditional meal of Irish Bacon and cabbage, not corned beef and cabbage.
The Patron Saint of Ireland
As for the man, St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland as well as being its national apostle. As mentioned above, he wasn’t even Irish! He was born in Roman Britain, a period of time in Britain when they were taken over by the Roman Empire. This would then make him out to be of either British or Italian descent. It is believed he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave sometime during his mid-teens, around 16. He would eventually escape but later returned to Ireland. He is credited as the person who brought Christianity to the Irish people, when at this time they were practicing in Celtic paganism. Celtic paganism is also known as Ancient Irish Religion and would have been composed of the religious beliefs and practices of most people during the Iron Ages, people now known as the Celts.
In the years to follow after St. Patrick’s death, which is believed to have been on March 17, 461, the legends and lore around his life began to take root in the Irish culture. The most popular is the story of how St. Patrick used a shamrock to explain the theory of the Holy Trinity to the Irish people. Each leaf represented the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The second story is of how St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland and into the Irish sea. While this story sounds intriguing Ireland has never been inhabited by snakes, as the weather is too cold for them to survive. This story is believed to have been created as a metaphor, with the snakes meant to represent sin. Whatever the story may be or whatever you choose to believe, the story and life of St. Patrick has gone on to not just impact the religious world but the world all over.
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