Millions of people all over the world celebrate St. Patrick's Day every year. Many people believe it's a holiday to use as an excuse to drink and party but the history of St. Patrick's day runs much deeper than a pint of Guinness! How did this festival get started, and how did it end up being celebrated all over the world? Let's delve into the history of St. Patrick's Day and learn how it went from a religious celebration to one associated with leprechauns and gold pots.
Religious Foundations of the Saint Patrick's Day Holiday
St. Patrick's Day was originally a religious celebration in Ireland in honor of the patron saint of that country. It was international Irish celebrity superstar, St. Patrick, a Christian missionary who lived in the fifth century AD, who is widely credited with introducing Christianity to Ireland. St. Patrick's Day was first observed on March 17, the traditional date of his death, but it wasn't recognized as a feast day by the Catholic Church until the 17th century.
St. Patrick's Day Traditions Over the Years
St. Patrick's Day was originally a religious festival, although it has since become more broadly secular. While it is still a religious holiday in Ireland, St. Patrick's Day is now celebrated as a global holiday honoring all things Irish.
Parades, music, dancing, and the consumption of hearty portions of traditional Irish fare are common components of St. Patrick's Day celebrations. A parade celebrating St. Patrick's Day was first conducted in New York City in 1762, and it was organized by Irish soldiers in the British garrison stationed there. St. Patrick's Day is now observed in many places outside of Ireland, such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and even certain areas of Europe.
Leprechauns, Symbols of St. Patrick's Day - Myth and Legend
Among the many St. Patrick's Day symbols, leprechauns are the most widely recognized. Legend has it that these naughty critters are miniature guys with beards, dressed completely in green with a pointy green cap, and that they keep their gold in a pot at the end of a rainbow.
Irish mythology is widely credited as the source of the leprechaun legend, but its exact origin is unknown. Legend has it that leprechauns are lone shoemakers who keep their wealth hidden deep in the woods. If a human were to capture a leprechaun, you can coerce the leprechaun into revealing the location of the leprechaun's hidden treasure.
Leprechauns have become a widely recognized icon of Ireland and St. Patrick's Day festivities. They show up everywhere, from decorations to clothing to parades and in all the places you least expect them! Although the history of the leprechaun legend is clouded in obscurity, its inclusion in St. Patrick's Day celebrations is an integral part of the holiday's lighthearted and celebratory atmosphere.
The Cultural and Social Effects of Saint Patrick's Day
St. Patrick's Day is widely celebrated as a significant aspect of Irish culture and national identity. Many people trace their ancestry back to Ireland on this holiday, which serves as an opportunity to appreciate Irish culture and tradition.
It is significant not only culturally, but also socially. Several political and social movements, such as those seeking Irish independence and Irish-American pride, have utilized the festival as a platform. Many communities hold St. Patrick's Day festivities that are open to individuals of all backgrounds as a means to celebrate the holiday and spread messages of diversity and acceptance.
Ultimately, St. Patrick's Day, is a celebration steeped in tradition and cultural significance. St. Patrick's Day has transformed from a religious festival to a secular celebration of Irish heritage and multiculturalism. St. Patrick's Day is a time for people of all backgrounds to celebrate the commonalities that bind us and an opportunity for us all to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But what’s even more important than the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is the friends we made along the way (and the pints we share with them).