Leprechauns, parades, the color green and a bunch of Irish car bombs do more than just describe a good time. It describes the holiday Saint Patrick’s day. A day (March 17th) used to celebrate the patron Saint Patrick. A holiday celebrated since the 17th century. But who is Saint Patrick, and why on this day do we celebrate his accomplishments.
Patrick was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. What is known about Saint Patrick comes from the “Declaration” (which was allegedly written by Patrick himself). It is believed that he was born in the fourth century, into a wealthy family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest.
According to the. “Declaration”, at the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland. It is said that he spent six years there working as a shepherd. It was during this time where he “found God”. The Declaration said that God told Patrick to flee to the coast, where a ship would be waiting to take him home. After making his way home, Patrick went on to become a priest. Patrick later returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. The Declaration says that he spent many years evangelizing in the northern half of Ireland and converted “thousands” to Christianity. Tradition holds that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick. Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland’s foremost saint.
Saint Patrick’s feast day, as a kind of national day, was already being celebrated by the Irish in Europe during the ninth and tenth centuries. In later times, he (Saint Patrick) became more and more widely seen as the patron of Ireland. Saint Patrick’s feast day was finally placed on the universal liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church in the early 1600s. Saint Patrick’s Day thus became a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholics in Ireland. It is also a feast day in the Church of Ireland.
In 1903, St Patrick’s Day became an official public holiday in Ireland. This was thanks to the Bank Holiday Act 1903, an act of the United Kingdom Parliament introduced by Irish Member of Parliament James O’Mara. The first St Patrick’s Festival was held on 17 March 1996. In 1997, it became a three-day event, and by 2000 it was a four-day event. By 2006, the festival was five days long; more than 675,000 people attended the 2009 parade. Overall 2009’s five-day festival saw almost 1 million visitors, who took part in festivities that included concerts, outdoor theatre performances, and fireworks.
St Patrick’s Day, while not a legal holiday in the United States, is nonetheless widely recognized and observed throughout the country as a celebration of Irish and Irish-American culture. Celebrations include prominent displays of the color green, religious observances, numerous parades, and copious consumption of alcohol. The holiday has been celebrated in North America since the late 18th century.
All around the world on March 17th people are dressing up in green (or being pinched for not doing so) and celebrating the man that brought Christianity to an otherwise pagan nation. Long lines of people wearing green top hats walking in the street followed by parade floats and Irish style entertainment fill downtown areas around the country. So, from everyone here at bv305; let us all be safe and celebrate the Irish within us all.
Written by : Vic Fonseca
Edited: Javi Vasallo