Who was St. Patrick, and Why Do We Celebrate Him Every March?
It’s easy being green on St. Patrick’s Day, especially this year when we can enjoy an entire weekend filled with parades, provisions, and parties. It’s a fun holiday that doesn’t take itself too seriously and encourages us to let loose a little and celebrate.
You don’t have to be Irish to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, you don’t even have to wear green so long as you don’t mind some odd looks or an obligatory pinch. Best of all, you don’t even need to know a thing about St. Patrick, because he doesn’t even play a very important role in his own day!
Sure, he was credited with driving all the snakes out of Ireland, but many historians downplay that claim anyway because apparently there weren’t any snakes there to begin with. So, who was this Irish saint, and why do we celebrate him half a world away by drinking green beer and chasing imaginary leprechauns around searching for their pot of gold?
For starters, he wasn’t even Irish! In fact, according to History.com, he was actually born in Britain and his family wasn’t particularly religious. His life did take an interesting turn in his teens, however when he was kidnapped and held captive by Irish raiders. While in captivity, he spent much of his time isolated from other people which led him to turn to spiritual thoughts for comfort and guidance and ultimately began his path towards sainthood.
Eventually, he escaped back to Britain but was sent back to Ireland on a mission after becoming ordained. His time there was reportedly rather unpleasant, and he was mostly forgotten after he died in 461 A.D. With those kinds of credentials, it’s no wonder why we have trouble understanding how he became the patron saint of Ireland, and thus, St. Patrick.
As with most tales from centuries ago, the story of St. Patrick has been fortified and romanticized through legends and folklore. It wasn’t until the early 20th century – over 2000 years after his death – that the celebrations of him started becoming more popular. Prior to that time, March 17 was unceremoniously observed with a large family feast and little more than a possible mention by the priests during church services.
St. Patrick’s Day as we know it today may have actually originated in Boston where a group of elite Irish men gathered in 1737 for a special meal dedicated to an unknown Irish saint. Soon after, New York began hosting parades with Irish-American soldiers to honor St. Patrick and the holiday grew from there.
In other words, the St. Patrick’s Day that we know and love was largely an American invention began by Irish-American immigrants after they came to the United States. Those new citizens wanted a way to celebrate their culture while also embracing their new life in America. As the years rolled by, the parades and celebrations got bigger and more visible and were adopted by more people.
Today, the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day reaches far beyond its Irish-American roots and embraces people from all walks of life. As they say, “everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.”
Happy St. Patrick’s Day from your friends at Phoenix Flower Shops. We’re ready to help you celebrate with our special section of St. Patrick’s Day flowers, plants, and gifts. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, simply give us a call at (480) 289-4000 and we will be happy to make a custom design for you!
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