Every year on March 17, the Irish and the Irish-at-heart across the globe observe St. Patrick’s Day. What began as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland has become an international festival celebrating Irish culture with parades, dancing, special foods and a whole lot of green. But how did it all begin and why do we wear green?
Patrick was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. 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 March 17. Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland’s foremost saint.
On St Patrick’s Day it is customary to wear shamrocks and/or green clothing or accessories. St Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan irish. In a total American tradition, St. Patrick’s revelers thought wearing green made one invisible to leprechauns, fairy creatures who would pinch anyone they could see (anyone not wearing green). People began pinching those who didn’t wear green as a reminder that leprechauns would sneak up and pinch green-abstainers.
St. Patrick’s day is also known as the Feast of Saint Patrick. It is said that the churches lifted the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol for the day, which has encouraged and propagated the holiday’s tradition of alcohol consumption. Some Irish favorites include Irish brown bread, corned beef and cabbage, beef and guinness pie, Irish cream chocolate pie, Irish coffee, Irish stew, and Irish potato soup.
So check out your local St. Patrick’s Day parades and festivities and for one day eat, drink and be green!