March 17 is the famous St Patrick’s Day or Feast of Saint Patrick gathering around the world. The Irish communities and organizations have celebrated this cultural and religious holiday in memory of Saint Patrick, a patron saint of Ireland. St Patrick died on March 17, (AD 385 – 461).
Saint Patrick’s Day is an official Christian feast day stemming from the early seventeenth century and observed by the Catholic Church, Lutheran Church, and the Anglican Communion. The holiday commemorates the arrival of St Patrick and celebrates the tradition and customs of the Irish people in general. The Lenten restrictions are lifted for this holiday and let people to eat and drink alcohol, which has encouraged the tradition of alcohol consumption.
St Patrick was born in Britain and tradition has it that as a young adult was captured by Irish marauders who took him back to Ireland as a slave. He eventually returned to live with his family and followed the family tradition of his father and grandfather by joining the church. His desire to work as a missionary led him to go back to Ireland
There is a popular legend that St Patrick rid Ireland of snakes. There of course were no snakes in Ireland as the country was surrounded by cold seas. The snakes he drove away were either druids or pagan worshipers.
It was on Station Island, situated in Lough Derg in the county of Donegal where St Patrick had a dream promising all who came to the sanctuary in repentance and faith would receive a pardon for their sins. Since the early thirteenth century people plan a pilgrimage which is associated with penance and spiritual healing
A stone slab of granite placed in the graveyard at County Down Cathedral on the site of Benedictine Monastery, built in 1183, commemorates St Patrick’s burial site on the hill.
A Franciscan student, Luke Wadding, from the south coast of Ireland, was instrumental in ensuring the anniversary of St Patrick’s death turned into a festival day within the Catholic Church
During the nineteenth and twentieth century, many people left Ireland and immigrated to other countries around the world, including Australia and the United States. The Irish immigrants ensured that their Irish customs and festivities were celebrated and St Patrick’s day celebrations turned into a popular event. It was during the twenty-first century that the festivities and celebrations of St Patrick’s day grew commercially.
The Irish communities and people celebrate this holiday all over the world and carry their tradition of wearing the color green on the day. Parties and visits to local pubs are popular. Drinks and food are dyed green as a symbol of the celebration. Corned beef and cabbage is the popular meal on St Patrick’s day although other meals such as Irish stew and brown bread are served.
Although St Patrick’s day is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland, some parts of the world do not indulge in a holiday but partake in the celebrations of the saint. Parades in towns and cities are organized for people to celebrate the festivities associated with St Patrick.
The Shamrock is the leaf of the clover plant and the symbol of the Holy Trinity is a popular emblem of St Patrick’s day celebration. Religious symbols include serpents, snakes and the Celtic cross. A legend of St Patrick is the adding of the sun, a great Irish symbol onto the Christian cross to form the Celtic cross. The Leprechaun and the pot of gold he keeps hidden away is the mythical creature also presented as symbols on this day. The Harp, a musical instrument used in Ireland for many centuries is another symbol used by people celebrating the St Patrick’s festivities.
St Patrick’s Day celebration is a commercially entertaining event celebrated worldwide to commemorate the humbleness of his sainthood.
By Laura Oneale