Happy St. Paddy’s Day! Irish or not, people have been charmed by this holiday and the revelry associated with it.
Are you ever curious about the origins of holidays and their traditions? I am, and often do a little research. Here’s what I’ve learned about St. Patrick’s Day.
According to www.biography.com, St. Patrick was
“born in England arguably in the late 4th century A.D., St. Patrick was captured by pirates as a child and brought to Ireland. During his enslavement, he was called to Christianity and escaped his captors after six years. He returned to Ireland as a missionary, and in his teachings, combined Irish pagan beliefs with Christian sacrament, devising the Celtic Cross.”
March 17th is considered the date of his death. According to www.gpb.org/education/origins-of-st-patricks-day
“Patrick became a bishop and after his death was named Ireland’s patron saint. Celebrations in Ireland were understated though. When the Irish emigrated to the U.S., they created the bigger celebrations and parades known today.”
The wearing of the green tradition has several possible origins, one of which is the reference to Ireland as the Emerald Isle. Although Christianity eventually eclipsed the pagan beliefs and rites, the old ways are still reflected in welcoming the new green growth of spring. Green was the color for Irish Catholics, while Protestants were represented by orange. Thus the national flag:
The wearing of the green took on new meaning in the 1798 rebellion against British tyranny:
“The Wearing of the Green” is an anonymously-penned Irish street ballad dating to 1798. The context of the song is the repression around the time of the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Wearing a shamrock in the “caubeen” (hat) was a sign of rebellion and green was the colour of the Society of the United Irishmen, a republican revolutionary organization. During the period, displaying revolutionary insignia was made punishable by hanging. (http://wiki.answers.com)
These days, at least in America, the wearing of the green, drinking green beer, and celebrating all things Irish is not limited to those of Irish background. It’s become an American holiday, celebrating the homeland of one of many waves of immigrants to our country. Whatever your background, I wish you a Happy Saint Paddy”s Day!