By: Samantha Roll
This year already seems better and more hopeful than the last one. Nevertheless, people continue to get creative with their activities, pursuits, and gatherings. Today marks another holiday with which we can get innovative. Whichever way you choose to celebrate this year, let’s take a closer look at this long-standing celebration!
Did you know that St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated for over a thousand years? I think that is amazing. It really puts things into perspective too. It is easy to get caught up in our present circumstances to the point where we might forget all the years that came before and all those that are ahead of us. The present will soon become the past and fade into our own personal histories though we might remember it with new traditions, celebrations, or practices.
However, even those traditions and celebrations that we create individually or collectively can and do change over time. Life is dynamic, and so are we. It comes as no surprise then that the original and primary purpose of St. Patrick’s Day is to commemorate the arrival of Christianity to Ireland. St. Patrick is Ireland’s patron saint and national apostle. He is given credit for bringing the religion to the people of Ireland.
Legend has it that St. Patrick used the three-leaved shamrock, a sacred plant to the ancient Irish people, to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity. Because the holiday takes place during the Lenten season, dietary restrictions were lifted for the day. People celebrated and continue to celebrate by eating traditional dishes such as bacon or corned beef and cabbage as well as drinking.
Although the original purpose of the holiday remains intact, with many families attending church services today or this week–held online in a lot of places this year–its purpose has grown to encompass so much more. St. Patrick’s Day is now an overall celebration of the richness of Irish culture.
St. Patrick’s Day parades are synonymous with the holiday. Although, it may surprise you to learn that the very first one was not held in Ireland, but right here in our own backyard of St. Augustine in 1601 according to History.com. In fact, St. Patrick’s Day achieved much of its popularity through events put on by members of the Irish diaspora, particularly here in the United States. For instance, each year the Chicago River is dyed green for the holiday, a practice which began in 1962. Worldwide celebrations now extend all the way to Russia, Japan, and Singapore. Wherever there are Irish people or an appreciation for Irish culture, there are sure to be those celebrating today!
Want to find out more about St. Patrick’s Day or another holiday? Come pay your local library a visit. We have physical and electronic resources for the whole family (including video and board games). Just make sure to wear something green today, otherwise you’ll be visible to leprechauns and may just get a pinch!