By Danielle Cherry
St. Patrick’s Day is more than just a day of drinking and wearing green to those of the Catholic faith. St. Patrick’s Day was first celebrated in in honor and memory of Saint Patrick himself. The first St. Patrick’s Day celebration parade was held in New York City, not in Ireland, contrary to popular belief. There was a dramatic increase of Irish immigrants to the United States, especially New York City in the mid-19th century. Celebration quickly became common.
St. Patrick of Ireland is one of the most popular saints, especially in the United States. He was born in the U.K. in 387. He was later captured by Irish pirates as a young boy but escaped back to the UK when he turned 20. He was able to do this because God showed him how to in a dream. A few years later, he had another vision sent by God, but this time it was to return to Ireland and become a priest there. Patrick arrived back in Ireland on March 25, 433. Legend says he met with the pirate that had kidnapped him years earlier and converted him to Christianity. After this, Patrick was free to preach and spread the word of God across Ireland. Patrick led thousands of new Christians and built churches and religious communities across the country for the next 40 years. He died on March 17, 461.
Patrick is considered the patron saint of Ireland because he essentially brought the Catholic faith to Ireland. There are also numerous legends that are associated with him. One of these common legends was a time that he drove the snakes of Ireland into the sea to their destruction, saving their lands. He also often used shamrocks to explain the Holy Trinity in a simple way. The teaching and legends made entire kingdoms eventually convert to Christianity.
Saint Patrick died on March 17th, so that is why we celebrate his holiday that day. Many traditions come with this holiday in Ireland, America, and other Christian countries. My personal experience with the holiday is hectic and busy. In high school, I was a waitress at an Irish Pub, and it was the only Irish pub in town. My workday started at 9 a.m. and I did not leave until around 2 or 3 a.m. the next day. It was always an extremely lively time. The pub was always packed with locals wearing shamrocks, green clothes, and big hats. It seemed to bring many people together in my community. I also baton twirled in many Saint Patrick’s day parades back in New Hampshire. I always remember St. Patricks’s day being a fun time!