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Zainab Dewji
Via Google

St. Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious holiday originating in Ireland, which is overlooked by many nowadays. It is regarded, at least in America, that St. Patrick’s Day brings luck or trickery, often associating shamrocks, leprechauns and a strictly GREEN wardrobe with the holiday, but most not knowing exactly why. Along with the associations of Celtic legends, it is also a day known for religious celebration and falls during the Christian season of Lent– which is known as Christians spiritual preparation and cleansing time before Easter Sunday. 


Saint Patrick, according to Britannica, “was kidnapped at the age of 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave. He escaped but returned about 432 CE to convert the Irish to Christianity” (1). Saint Patrick was a renowned member of society in his time, and all before his death on March 17th 461 CE, had established many churches, monasteries, schools, and more for his town. He became known as “the Patron Saint of Ireland”, and many legends stemmed from his journeys. The History Channel’s website adds that, “the most well-known legend of St. Patrick is that he explained the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) using the three leaves of a native Irish clover, the shamrock” (3). It is also a symbol to the Irish for the rebirth of spring. Alongside that, it can be said he chased the Snakes from Ireland with the power from his “lucky shamrock”. 


Specifically following his death, Christians in Ireland began to transform and celebrate the day to honor Saint Patrick and his influence on Celtic culture. Irish people have been celebrating this holiday from the 9th/10th century, but the first official Saint Patrick’s day parade took place in  a Spanish-American colony, what is now known as St. Augustine, Florida. Much of the hype surrounding Saint Patrick’s day actually formed from the Irish-American Immigrants.  In the years following, the celebration began to spread around the nations, a large example being when “homesick Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched in New York City on March 17, 1772 to honor the Irish patron saint” (History 5). The holiday also aligns with the long-time Christian season of Lent. 


In addition to their celebration, lots of tradition and cultural standards have come from Saint Patrick and the celebration surrounding him. Food being a natural center of the culture, more than thousands of Irish-Americans gather together to share a traditional Irish meal of “corned beef and cabbage”, a long time Irish food. According to, “corned beef only began to be associated with St. Patrick’s Day at the turn of the 20th century” (9). Wearing green is a commonality seen between all kinds of people on St. Patrick’s day. 


Leprechauns, also known as a “lobaircin,” meaning “small-bodied fellow” (History 5), resonate in old Irish folklore. The belief in these creatures is also associated with others like fairies, gnomes, or other little shrubbish, whimsical beings. Leprechauns do in fact have their own national holiday, falling on May 13th. Leprechauns were known to be cranky, trick-ridden little men who would fall responsible for mending or cleaning the shoes of fairies. 


Overall, St. Patrick’s day can be fun and enjoyable for everyone involved– Irish or not. The traditions surrounding Saint Patrick himself and the Christian religion, Irish culture, and general history are all important and commonly overlooked aspects of St. Patrick’s day, aside from just wearing green and looking for four leaf clovers for good luck. Hope this year’s St. Patrick’s Day is a lucky day for all!

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