St. Patrick’s Day is no longer just for the Irish. Almost everyone celebrates the day by wearing green, drinking Guinness and enjoying some corned beef and cabbage. It seems as if there should be more to St. Patrick’s Day than food and drink. Why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Why is there green everywhere?
Who Was St. Patrick?
Did you know that St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish? The man who would eventually become St. Patrick was born at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland, in the year 387 and named Maewyn. When he was fourteen he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ireland. It was during this captivity that he turned to God.
“The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same. I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain.”
When he was twenty, he was able to escape his captivity. He returned to Britain and was reunited with his family. Once home, he began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years.
When he returned to Ireland in March of 433, it was as a missionary for the Catholic Church. It is believed that he used the three-leaf clover to demonstrate the Holy Trinity of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. St. Patrick is credited for spreading Christianity to the more pagan areas of Ireland.
Patrick later became a Bishop and when he died on March 17th, 461, he was named the Patron Saint of Ireland. After his death, he was celebrated every year on March 17th. The celebrations were quiet, peaceful affairs. It wasn’t until the Irish began immigrating to America that the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations became the wild bacchanal that they are today.
Why Do We Wear Green and Eat Corned Beef?
In the 1640’s, a green harp flag was used by the Irish Catholic Confederation. Ever since then, green has been the color associated with the Irish and St. Patrick’s Day.
Many Irish-American immigrants could not afford expensive food. St. Patrick’s Day was sacred to them so they wanted to celebrate their heritage. Corned beef and cabbage was the best they could afford. It quickly became a staple of the holiday.
Go Forth and Celebrate
St. Patrick’s Day is a perfect day for celebration. Drink some green beer, eat some corned beef and cabbage and enjoy all that Ireland and its people have to offer!