It's March 17th, which means that St. Patrick's day is here again, and I thought it would be nice to talk a little bit about the holiday and its history. Sure, we know that on this day the masses cover themselves in the color green, and that come evening, bars and pubs alike will be packed to capacity with revelers, some with Irish ancestry, and some without even a drop of Irish in their blood. So, why do we all get decked out in green every year, and who exactly was this Saint Patrick fellow? Well, it turns out that St. Patrick really was a saint, in fact he's one of the patron saints of Ireland, and the Irish have been celebrating the holiday since the 1600's. Still, how many people do you know who celebrate St. Patrick's Day in order to honor the actual saint himself? It seems that over the years, and particularly here in America, the holiday has become more about celebrating Irish culture, and less to do with anything religious. Certainly, there are some Irish-Catholics out there that celebrate the holiday as a religious event, but overall, it has become an excuse to wear green, drink green beer, and just have an all-around awesome time, all in the name of Ireland.
So, what's with the color green? Well, originally the color associated with St. Patrick was blue, but in the 17th century, green ribbons and shamrocks began being worn. The reason for the significance of the shamrock is that (according to Irish legend), St. Patrick used to use the shamrock to explain the concept of the holy trinity to the pre-Christian Irish. In the United States, in addition to the wearing of green and drinking alcohol, many cities also hold parades and other festivities to observe the holiday. One of the most surprising things I found while looking up the holiday, is that the country of Ireland didn't begin using the holiday as a way to celebrate Irish culture until the 1990's. Before that, the holiday was just seen as a religious observation. So there you have it, and now you know what you're celebrating, the great history of St. Patrick, and the rich history of the Irish people. Erin go bragh, and happy St. Patrick's Day!