The Story of St. Patrick’s Day

The origin of Green Irish day 

The Story of St. Patricks Day

Alexander Amaro , Contributor

Modern St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, at least in the United States, are likely to be characterized by commercial lucky charms and green beer all of which has very little to do with the historical figure of the saint.

The March 17 celebration started in 1631 when the Church established a Feast Day honoring St. Patrick. He had been Patron Saint of Ireland who had died around the fifth century 12 centuries before the modern version of the holiday. St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity’s most widely known figures. But for all of his prevalence in culture, mainly the holiday held on the day of his death that bears his name while his life remains somewhat of a mystery. 

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade happened in America, not Ireland. In 1762, the first New York City parade took place. It wasn’t until 1798, the year of the Irish Rebellion, that the color green became officially associated with the day. Up until the rebellion, the color associated with St. Patrick was blue, as it was featured both in the royal court and on ancient Irish flags. But as the British wore red, the Irish chose to wear green, and they sang the song “The Wearing of the Green” during the rebellion, cementing the color’s relevance in Irish history. The color stuck once waves of Irish immigrants made their home in America and began wearing green and carrying the Irish flag to show their pride for their home country.

Many of the stories traditionally associated with St. Patrick are false which are the products of hundreds of years of storytelling. Saint Patrick was actually British, being born in Britain, not Ireland, to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D.

As a teenager, St. Patrick was kidnapped by a pirate raiding party and sold into slavery in Ireland. As a slave, he looked after and herded sheep for many years. He then escaped to a monastery in Gaul (present-day France), where he converted to Christianity. That’s where he became a priest and then eventually a bishop. Also, St. Patrick isn’t technically a saint while he’s been given the title in popular lore, St. Patrick was never actually officially canonized as a saint. He returned to Ireland in 432 as a missionary, where he played a major role in converting the Irish to Christianity. 

His real name was Maewyn Succat. Maewyn Succat was his name until he changed it to Patrick when he became a bishop. Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. After his death, he was named Ireland’s patron saint. In the Catholic tradition, the day a saint passes away is considered a holy day to celebrate their ascension into heaven. St. Patrick passed away on March 17 and it continues to be when St. Patrick’s Day is held annually.