In celebration of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to do a little bit of research to understand why the streets will be full of green hats and overflowing bear mugs this Sunday. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of my laborious research ^_^
1. Where did it come from?
Right off the bat, most of you would probably assume that St. Patrick’s Day is a purely Irish celebration, but the you would already be wrong. The man behind this holiday was not Irish, but was in fact a British man from a Christian family, born in 390 A.D. Surprised? Well, when you consider that most of the holidays we celebrate are bent more towards the commercial and economic aspect and farther away from their historical roots, it’s not a mystery that most people are unaware of this fact. But I digress …
2. How did it come about?
According to the National Geographic, Patrick was taken away to be a slave when he was only 16 years old, and it was that experience which made him into a very devoted Christian.
Somehow, he managed to escape and make it back to Britain, but something (or possibly someone) convinced him to return to Ireland, where he became a Bishop. With his new position, he tried to spread the word of Christianity throughout Ireland. As you can imagine, he met a fair bit of resistance and animosity, and he went all but completely forgotten when he died in 461.
3. How did he go from Bishop to Saint?
Like most legends, the story of Patrick is largely shrouded by myths and speculations. His birth place isn’t even known for certain. Most claim that he was born in Britain, but others speculate that it may have been Scotland. Either way, he was not originally from Ireland, which is what makes this holiday so fascinating; why would they celebrate the life of someone who was not even native to their country? Just goes to show that it is our actions which speak the loudest.
4. Why do we drink more on this day than others?
Drinking copious amounts of alcohol is a common celebration for any holiday, but St. Patrick’s day is the worst for it. Apparently, over 13 million pints of Guinness Beer are consumed around the world on this one day!
For a person who doesn’t drink, that seems like a heck of a lot of booze. This is, for the most part, a result of ‘culture sharing’. Ireland is well known for their delectable beverages, and it was only a matter of time before they would be brought over to the US and made into a common celebratory custom.
5. Why so much green?
Green, as you all know, is the symbolic color of Ireland. There was one time, back in the 1960’s, where they actually managed to die the entire length of the Chicago River green!
It definitely takes a lot of dedication to pull something like that off. The color green is most commonly associated with the Catholic community of Ireland, while wearing orange was associated with the Protestant community and will earn you a pinch if you wear that color on St. Patrick’s day. Reveals a bit of the animosity that existed, and still exists between the two, which is kind of funny since both colors are depicted on their flag as a sign of their unity.
There is a great deal more history behind this day, of course, but this should give you the general idea. So while you’re out at the pub, throwing shamrocks in your beer and singing Irish drinking songs, keep in mind that you are taking part in a celebration which carries with it a greater history than most realize. Just another reason why reading is so important ^_^
That’s all for today. Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day weekend without going too crazy, and as always, happy reading!