True traditions of St. Paddy’s day

Reading Time: 3 minutes

All over the world St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by millions of people, yet does anyone actually know the significance behind the day?

The truth of the matter is that the way St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated has changed a great deal since its historic origins, exemplifying more fiction than fact.

While it’s fine if you end up going to Failte’s Irish pub down King St. on St. Paddy’s with your peers, at least take a moment to learn what the day is about.

Fact

Saint Patrick is one of the most widely-known figures in Christianity. Around 460 AD, when he was only sixteen years old, Patrick was kidnapped from Britain by Irish raiders and taken back to Ireland as a slave.

It was in Ireland that he spent six years as a prisoner, where during this time he grew up as a shepherd. Away from his family and held in an unknown place, Patrick turned to religion and became a devout Christian.

During his years as a prisoner, he saw a vision from God telling him to leave Ireland. After escaping Ireland and returning to Britain, Patrick had another vision from God telling him to return to Ireland as a missionary to convert the Irish to Christianity.

Because of his accomplishments in Ireland, St. Patrick is highly regarded for his capabilities as a priest. He built schools and monasteries all along the Irish coast, serving as the beginning of Christianity in Ireland. For his efforts during his lifetime, he is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland.

But why March 17? It is believed that St. Patrick died on that day in 461 AD, marking it as a holy day in Ireland. Shops in Ireland would be closed for the day and everyone would attend church in the morning.

After individuals attended church they would continue the celebration by drinking a pint or two along with a great meal on St. Patrick’s Day, temporarily lifting the restrictions of 40-day long Catholic practice of Lent during which St. Paddy’s Day falls.

Fiction

First of all, St. Patrick is not Irish. He was born and raised in Britain.

People believe the shamrock is associated with St. Patrick’s Day because it is believed that Patrick used the shamrock to teach the holy trinity, although this is only considered a myth. Millions of people believe that the shamrock is Ireland’s national symbol, but it is actually the Celtic harp.

In the 19th century, it was the United States that associated the colour green with St. Patrick’s Day. The colour served as a tie to Ireland’s lush green hills and valleys however, St. Patrick himself never wore green — he actually wore blue.

The authentic Irish leprechaun is associated with the Celtic religion that pre-dated Christianity. He is seen as a much older and wiser figure in folklore, where he would warn people of creating boundaries between people and spirits. In Ireland, leprechauns were never associated with the ‘pot of gold.’ In actuality, it was the U.S. that gave rise to a frivolous, younger and silly figure. All the stereotypes that were associated with the Irish were placed on this Americanized leprechaun.

And there you have it, the reality behind the infamous day celebrated around the globe. Take what you will from these facts but even if you don’t this is what you should note: With the dollar store almost already sold out of St. Paddy’s gear, the beer store already having to order in triple the amount of beer they normally receive and every single pub in Waterloo not letting any of their workers take the day off, we know it’s going to be one hell of a day.

Leave a Reply