St Patrick’s Day Celebration
St Patrick’s Day is a global celebration of Irish culture on or around March 17, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461). It particularly remembers St Patrick, one of Ireland’s patron saints, who ministered Christianity in Ireland during the fifth century.
Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church.
The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. It is widely celebrated in the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand, especially amongst Irish diaspora.
Who Was St Patrick?
Patrick was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Much of 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 Roman Britain in the fourth century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church.
According to the Declaration, at the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland. It says that he spent six years there working as a shepherd and that during this time he “found God”. The Declaration says 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.
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.
Why the Snake?
According to popular legend, St Patrick rid Ireland of snakes. However, it is thought that there have been no snakes in Ireland since the last ice age. The “snakes” that St Patrick banished from Ireland, may refer to the druids or pagan worshipers of the snake or serpent gods. He is said to be buried under Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, Ireland. Ireland’s other patron saints are St Brigid and St Columba.
Celebrate by Wearing Green
Green ribbons and shamrocks have been worn on St Patrick’s Day since at least the 1680s. St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in many parts of the world, especially by Irish communities and organizations and it is customary to wear shamrocks, green clothing or green accessories. St Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish.
Parties featuring Irish food and drinks that are dyed in green food colour are part of this celebration. Many restaurants and pubs offer Irish food or drink, which include: corned beef and cabbage, shepherd’s pie and Irish soda bread.
The shamrock is the leaf of the clover plant and a symbol of the Holy Trinity. Religious symbols include snakes and serpents, as well as the Celtic cross. Some say that Saint Patrick added the Sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross. Other Irish-related symbols seen on St Patrick’s Day include the harp, which was used in Ireland for centuries, as well as a mythological creature known as the leprechaun and a pot of gold that the leprechaun keeps hidden
Since 2010, famous landmarks have been lit up in green on St Patrick’s Day as part of Tourism Ireland’s “Global Greening Initiative” or “Going Green for St Patrick´s Day”. The Sydney Opera House and the Sky Tower in Auckland were the first landmarks to participate and since then over 300 landmarks in fifty countries across the globe have gone green for St Patrick’s day.
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