By: Ellie Cartier
St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday people usually skip over. If you do ‘celebrate it’, I can assure you that you don’t do it as you are supposed to. Beleive it or not, St. Patrick’s Day has a history and reason to exist, and not one that includes leprechauns and pots of gold.
According to a few articles I found online, St. Patrick was an Irish missionary who came to Ireland in around the 400’s A.D. or the 5th century to convert the people to Christianity. He was a very popular figure and March 17th, his death day, became the day to celebrate him. Only there’s much more to celebrating it than wearing green and pinching the poor folks who forgot or eating those sugar cookies with white frosting and green clover sprinkles.
There used to be feasts and parties that never seemed to end. People would drink beers with a shamrock, or a three-leaf clover, in them or take out the clover and toss it over their shoulders for good luck. The shamrock had significance to the Irish folk because Patrick had used it to represent the Holy Trinity. That is also where wearing green came from, and there was no pinching involved back then. Almost everyone wore green to celebrate.
Some other fun facts about St. Patrick is that Patrick isn’t even his real name. Patrick’s birth name was Maewyn (try pronouncing that without offending anyone) and he was born in Roman Britain into a wealthy family. He was kidnapped into slavery when he was sixteen and brought to Ireland.
He escaped to a French monastery in Gaul and converted to Christianity. He went back to Ireland in 432 A.D. as a missionary. While Christianity had already taken hold in the country, people say that Patrick confronted the people there and abolished their pagan beliefs, making Christianity more widespread. Patrick became a bishop in Ireland and after his death, he was named a Saint to the people. Celebrations in Ireland were understated though, and it wasn’t until the Irish emigrated to the U.S. that they created bigger celebrations and parades known today.
Eighteenth-century Irish soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War held the first St. Patrick Day parades in the United States. It became a way for the Irish immigrants to stay connected to the roots and feel like they weren’t so far from home.
Another fun fact about the Irish celebrations in America is the practice of dyeing the river green. It started in Chicago in 1962, when city officials decided to dye a portion of the Chicago River green in honor of Saint. Patrick’s day and to help them see where more of the waste is being dumped into the water. This tradition is still around and you can find videos and photos online.
An Irish-American dish popular during these times of celebration in America was corn beef and cabbage. Irish Americans were poor and could not afford to have grand meals like they could in Ireland. So now that meal is a staple for the holiday.
This holiday, as I hope you learned, is about much more than green and beer. Now when people say that St. Patrick’s day is pointless you can pull out this article and say ‘Excuse me you’re wrong’.