For hundreds of years, the Irish have celebrated St. Patrick’s Day on Mar. 17 to commemorate the death of St. Patrick, who was said to have brought Christianity to Ireland. In America, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by wearing green and searching for four leaf clovers.
Much of St. Patrick’s young life is unknown to historians but it is believed he was born Maewyn Succat in Roman Britain in the late fourth century. Surprisingly, religion was not important in his childhood, despite his father being a Christan deacon.
When he was 16, he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland to be a slave. During this time he was lonely and turned to religion for peace, becoming a devout Christian. Six years later, he escaped back to Britain where he almost starved before reuniting with his family.
After securing his belief in the Lord and becoming a priest, he changed his name to Patricius. He began traveling around baptizing people and spreading Christianity. He was honored to be able to convert people who worshiped “idols and unclean things” into “people of God,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica.
St. Patrick’s Day now gives Americans an excuse to leave work early, drink excessively and pinch their peers. For the United States, St. Patrick’s Day has become a secular celebration of Irish pride. The Irish however, take the day to feast, attend church and honor the man who brought them their religion. Sophomore David Engel said “It’s kinda fun. We don’t do a whole lot.”
The bright green clothes sported by Americans is another discrepancy between Irish and American tradition. Despite St. Patrick being originally associated with the color blue, Americans began wearing green to avoid being pinched by Leprechauns, mythical bearded dwarfs of Irish folklore.
Most Americans don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Sophomore Rizel Serrano said she thinks the holiday is stupid because “No one actually dresses green and if I don’t dress green all my aunts will pinch me.”
Another common symbol of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration is the shamrock. Usually seen as a sign of good luck for the finder, St. Patrick believed each leaf represents one of the holy trinity. Good luck finding a four leaf clover, considering no clover plant naturally grows four leaves.
Both Boston and New York claim the first American celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, but new findings suggest it was actually in Seville, Spain- now known as St. Augustine, Florida, according to The Washington Post.
Dr. J. Michael Francis, a history professor at the University of South Florida at St. Petersburg, stumbled upon records reporting the firing of 1600 canons to honor San. Augustin as well as San Patricio, a.k.a St. Patrick. Francis said he almost didn’t realize what he was reading. In a Washington Post article he said, “Then I thought, wait a second, they had a St. Patrick’s Day celebration in St. Augustine in 1600?”