Life and Feast Celebration of Saint Patrick

The patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick.

Every year, on March 17, the Irish celebrate the divinity of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, converting the pagans to Christianity. Saint Patrick was born in Roman Britain in the late 4th century and was taken to Ireland at the age of 16 after being kidnapped by pirates and forced into slavery. He managed to escape after hearing a voice tell him to go back to his birth land and be free. However, Saint Patrick returned in order to convert the Irish to Christianity. By the time of his passing on March 17, 461, he had established churches, monasteries, and schools across Ireland in order to spark hope and optimism amongst the people.

The day was transformed into a largely secular holiday full of celebration after Irish immigrants brought the holiday to the United States. This patron saint of Ireland has now become a cultural icon and cities with a large number of Irish immigrants and political power often hold extravagant parties and parades, making it into the mass festivities that are celebrated today. In 1737, Boston participated in its first St. Patrick’s Day tradition by assembling a parade, which New York City followed in 1762. This continued when the Chicago river was dyed green, which was done primarily for the benefits of tourists rather than the actual Irish immigrants themselves.

St. Patrick’s Day Traditions

Some key elements of this holiday include the parades thrown by major cities around the world. Almost every citizen is in attendance and Dublin, Boston, and New York are known for throwing the best parades full of marching bands, dancers, theatrical performances, and many more events. Wearing green is also crucial in order to respect the true Irish spirit. Since 1962, Chicago has dyed its river green and thousands of people gather around to witness the river being dyed. Both Irish immigrants and non-Irish people participate in the St. Patrick’s day tradition of wearing green in order to join in the mass hysteria and avoid getting pinched.

Photo of the Chicago River dyed green on St. Patrick’s Day.

Over time, the Shamrock, Blarney’s Stone, and the Leprechaun have become St. Patrick’s day traditions of this joyous holiday for the patron saint of Ireland. As Ireland’s national emblem, the shamrock’s three leaves represent the Father, Son and Holy Sprit that are part of the Supreme Being. Saint Patrick used this clover to teach pagans about the holy trinity. According to the St. Patrick’s day tradition, if you visit the Blarney Castle in County Cork and kiss the stone, you will become the master of the “gift of gab.” (However, kissing the Blarney Stone comes with serious health risks, so consider whether you really want to put your lips on it). Also, according to legend a leprechaun is an unfriendly Irish fairy that only reaches two feet tall. Treasure hunters try to track them down to steal their pot of gold, however this sneaky fairy is known to disappear as soon as they are captured.

Shamrock and Rainbow - Irish symbolsThe Shamrock and a leprechaun’s pot at the end of the rainbow,
traditional Irish symbols.

Taking part of St. Patrick’s day traditions such as drinking and eating festivities is also a very important factor for both Irish immigrants and Americans. Almost every pub will be stocked with their supply of famous Irish Guinness or Irish whisky. Green Beer is also popular. The population consumes Irish Beef Stew, Shepherd’s Pie, and Irish Soda Bread to add a sense of authenticity to the celebration. Furthermore, limericks, rhymes and blessings are given to honor the Saint that made this holiday possible, while uttering the phrases “Erin go Braugh” (Free Ireland) and “Sláinte” (Cheers).

After Saint Patrick’s passing in 461, he was buried near the fortress of Saul. He spent his entire life bringing Ireland closer to the Holy See and building up Christian communities. Although this feast of his accomplishments has been adopted world wide, Irish immigrants and non-Irish alike pay tribute to this Saint’s spiritualism and activism in bringing Christianity to Ireland through many St. Patrick’s day traditions. Saint Patrick will eternally be seen the patron saint of Ireland.

Do you honor Saint Patrick in a special way on March 17? Tell us about it. Leave a comment below or send us a message. Everlasting Footprint encourages everyone to celebrate the lives that impacted them.


About Sasha Polissky

Pursuing her BA in English with a minor in business, Sasha Polissky provides administrative and blogging support. Her interests include writing, photography, singing, and guitar, and she speaks English, Russian, and Spanish. She is involved Lady Spirit Hunters, and The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and writes to combine passion and information. Ms. Polissky’s dedication to Everlasting Footprint stems from the loss of her two grandmothers and grandfather to cancer. She uses her experience with loss to write and connect the Everlasting Footprint community.

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