Saint Patrick’s Day Party

st patricks day party

Most Americans know that Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17th, is the day to wear green, because if you don’t a leprechaun may catch you and give you a pinch. Normally this day is celebrated with a big parade, the eating of corn beef with cabbage, a leprechaun hat, a green green mug necklace and good old fashion drinking. Unfortunately, most people do not really know why they’re celebrating. Saint Patrick’s Day goes back over a thousand years, to a time when Ireland was mostly a land filled with paganism.

Born late in the 4th century AD, St. Patrick, the man the holiday the named for, grew up as a pagan in modern day Britain, but at the age of 16 he was sold into slavery to the Romans. During this time he converted to Christianity, and reported that he heard voices telling him he would soon be free from his slavery. After many years Patrick was able to escape back to northern Europe where he studied in a Christian monastery for 12 years. It was during this time that Patrick decided it was his mission to convert Ireland from a pagan nation into a Christian one, and so for the next 30 years he wondered around Ireland spreading the good word.

During his travels, St. Patrick is said to have used a three leaf clover, also known as a shamrock, to represent and teach understanding of the Holy Trinity: The Father, The Son, and the Holy Ghost. This is one of the reasons why the three leaf clover is such a popular symbol for Saint Patrick’s Day. Today the shamrock is more often seen with four leaves instead of the tradition three. The four leaf clover is considered to bring good luck to its wearer.

Of course, Patrick did have problems with the already established Celtic religion of the area, and was arrested a number of times. The local priests, Druids, are said to have hired men to kill Patrick, and it is believed that he lived through twelve assassination attempts. However, even with reluctant Druids, St. Patrick was able to convert a large portion of Ireland to Christianity, and set up over 300 churches and a number of schools to help his cause. After thirty years of wondering through Ireland, Patrick retired to live out the rest of his days in a monastery.

St. Patrick passed away on March 17th, 461 AD. So every year people gather and celebrate his eventful life. Through the haze of time a number of myths have become well known about St. Patrick. It is said that he stood upon a hill, and drove all of the snakes from Ireland. Of course there were never any snakes known to be native to Ireland, and this myth is believed to symbolize his successful conversation of the country.

Having a Saint Patrick’s Day Party? Check out these
Saint Patrick’s Day hats, mugs, boa’s and masks!

In 1737 Saint Patrick’s Day came to America, via a large celebration held in Boston. It was the Charitable Irish Society of Boston that put together this first celebration, and in 1766 the first Saint Patrick’s Day parade took place in New York. Every year the celebration seems to get a little larger. Today the New York parade is one of the largest parades held. In 1991 March was announced to be Irish-American Heritage Month by the US. In America the holiday is celebrated by both people of Irish decent and those who are not.

Oddly enough, it was not until the 1900′s that Saint Patrick’s Day became a large celebration in Ireland. Before that it was a minor religious holiday that was celebrated with a small feast. It was in America that the tradition of eating corn beef and cabbage really started. The food was thought to be traditional Irish foods. The idea of wearing the color green was also an American invention. True Irish believed that wearing green would attract the Good People, fairies and leprechauns to you, and they may steal you away.

Over the last few hundred years Saint Patrick’s Day has spread like wild fire. People all over the world take the day to celebrate both their heritage and/or their religion. Modern Saint Patrick’s Day traditions range from festive city wide parties to dying canals, fountains, and even rivers green. So dig out a nice shade of green, enjoy a little green mead or beer, and celebrate being Irish, even if you’re not!

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