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The History Behind St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations

LIFESTYLE | Published on 15/03/2024
Optimizada san patrick day

We are midway through March, which means it’s time to start wishing friends and family, co-workers and complete strangers a happy Saint Patrick’s Day. The popular holiday brings about grand reasons to celebrate regardless of where you live. Whether you’re Irish or not, knowing a little about the holiday and the reasons why St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th can make the festivities even more special. So why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and what is the true meaning behind the holiday? Read on to discover the history and legend behind the popular Irish holiday.

Why Do We Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? 

People from all over, not just those of Irish decent, don their green attire, eat loads of delicious St. Patrick’s Day food, and toast to the Irish on March 17th, but not everyone knows the meaning behind the popular holiday or why it was traditionally celebrated. Historically, the holiday was created to honor the life of Saint Patrick, one of the patron saints of Ireland, who is believed to have brought Christianity to the region. 

A victim of human trafficking, St. Patrick was taken as a slave from Britain to Ireland where he was kept for several years before making a run for it. After having escaped, he returned to the Irish lands to convert people to Christianity, while working hard to build churches, schools, and monasteries to help the people. Nowadays, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day to honor the culture and heritage of the Irish people. 

a person an his mom celebrating st patricks day

When is St. Patrick’s Day and Why is St. Patrick’s Day Celebrated on March 17th?

Every year, people take to the streets, restaurants, bars, and their homes to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day but few know why St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th. The date, which honors the death of Ireland’s patron saint, brings about various festivities, which often include parades, dancing, drinking, music, and feasts. St. Patrick is honored because he is believed to have brought Christianity to the Irish people. After escaping slavery, he studied theology with the mission of becoming a Catholic priest. In time, he returned to Ireland where he had once been held captive to evangelize the people. March 17th is a nod not just to his death, but to a life that he used to spread good in the world.

How is Saint Patrick’s Day Celebrated?

The Irish, who have celebrated him since the tenth century, held feasts and religious ceremonies in honor of the patron saint. It wasn’t until 1631, however, that the date became an official holiday according to the Catholic church. Nowadays, the holiday is unofficially celebrated all over the world where those of Irish descent can be found. Modern celebrations include copious amounts of St. Patrick’s Day food, what some have called “too much” drinking, and large parades that show off the beautiful culture of the Irish.

Check out these Authentic Guacamole Recipes: A Guide to Delicious and Easy Guacamole.

people celebrating saint patricks day and making traditional music

Is St. Patrick’s Day a Federal Holiday?

While Saint Patrick’s day is considered a national holiday in Ireland, in other parts of the world it is not. In the United States for example, the date has become a celebration of Irish culture, much like Cinco de Mayo has become a celebration of Mexican culture. The date is not considered a federal holiday, most likely due to the fact that the United States is secular and doesn’t denote religious holidays, with the exception of Christmas, as federally celebrated days. 

Shamrocks and a Pot of Gold

Legend has it that Saint Patrick used a shamrock while trying to convert the Irish to Christianity. Each of the leaves represented a key component of the religion. Some believe it stood for the Father, the Sun, and the Holy Spirit, while others say that the leaves of the clover stood for faith, hope, and love. 

Contrary to what many believe, the pot of gold has little to do with the traditional meaning of St. Patrick’s Day and more to do with modern symbols associated with Ireland. Legends are told about treasure troves of gold being hidden during the era of the Vikings, treasures that still to this day have yet to be found. If you replace vikings in modern stories with little leprechauns who have hidden their gold at the ends of a rainbow, you have the birth of an important Irish legend. The Irish believe that if you’re lucky enough to find the gold than your life is blessed. 

Don’t just dress the part for a happy St. Patrick’s Day. Learn the history and legends of what is largely considered the most widely celebrated national holiday on the planet.

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