Have you ever wondered how Saint Patrick’s Day came to be? Probably not, but just in case, here’s a little background.
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17, which is believed to be the anniversary date of his death. Though there seems to be some disagreement around some of the historical details, Saint Patrick is the patron Saint of Ireland and its national apostle.
Saint Patrick was actually born in the fifth century in Roman-controlled Britain, and as the story goes, he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He eventually escaped but would later return to Ireland and is credited with bringing Christianity to its people. In the centuries following Patrick’s death, his life’s mythology became ever more ingrained in the Irish culture. Perhaps the most well-known story was that he explained the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) using the three leaves of a native Irish clover, the shamrock. (So, there you go with the whole shamrock thing!)
Since around the ninth or 10th century, people in Ireland have been observing the Roman Catholic feast day of St. Patrick on March 17. But the first St. Patrick’s-day parade of record actually took place in 1601 in what is now St. Augustine, Florida. Then, almost two centuries later, on March 17, 1772, homesick Irish soldiers serving in the English Military in New York City marched to honor their patron saint. Enthusiasm for St. Patrick’s Day parades would eventually expand into Boston. Today, more than 100 St. Patrick’s Day parades are held annually across the United States, though New York City and Boston are still home to the largest celebrations.
I have to admit that I grew up thinking that St. Patrick’s Day was just another drinking holiday. But in my defense, I grew up in Wisconsin, and my grandmother’s maiden name was Molly Fitzpatrick.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Everyone!