Oh St. Paddy, we thought we knew thee
On March 17, every year, suddenly everyone wants to be Irish.
Thousands of people around the globe gather together to celebrate the sensational Saint Patrick.
But who was he? Why is celebrating St. Patrick an international occasion?
Most people that partake in the holiday can be seen wearing green attire in support of the Irish holiday while stumbling in and out of local pubs and eateries, mouths frothed from green beer.
“St. Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland and for a Catholic country that still has a great deal of significance,” said Catherine Marie Bromhead, a student at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.
Bromhead is currently doing her masters of philosophy in medieval history with the intention of starting her PhD in history this fall.
Patrick was captured by Irish pagans around the age of 16 and taken to Ireland where he was enslaved for close to six years. He apparently grew to like the spirit of the Irish, and after fleeing captivity, vowed to one day return.
Patrick eventually returned to Ireland as a Christian missionary.
March 17 is said to be St. Patrick’s date of death and is celebrated in Ireland as a religious and cultural holiday. It is a holiday that everyone gets off work or school.
Some older Dublin natives have mentioned to Bromhead that when they were younger, St. Patrick’s Day was a more solemn affair and people would wear blue in recognition of St. Patrick’s colour.
“I think because green was associated with Ireland, and Ireland was associated with St. Patrick’s Day, that is what likely influenced the change [from blue to green].”
Like many cross-cultural holidays, St. Patrick’s Day has become “Americanized.”
A day of celebration, it’s known in North America as an excuse to dress in green shirts with slogans like, “Kiss Me I’m Irish,” and drink the night away with friends.
“I would say it is an excuse to drink as much asanything else, but to be honest, pubs are open early in the morning until midnight every day, and they always have people in them,” said Bromhead.
“So really, no one needs an excuse to drink here.”
Dublin hosts its own St. Patrick’s Day Festival that was established by the government of Ireland in November, 1995.
The first St. Patrick’s Festival was held over one day on March 17, 1996. Since then, it has grown to be a four to five day celebration.
According to the St. Patrick’s Festival webpage, it started as a way “to provide the opportunity and motivation for people of Irish descent (and those who sometimes wish they were Irish) to attend and join in the imaginative and expressive celebrations.”
As well as “to project, internationally, an accurate image of Ireland as a creative, professional and sophisticated country with wide appeal.”
So while you’re out with friends sporting four-leaf clovers on your rosy cheeks, raise your glasses and cheers —or slainte as the Irish say— to St. Paddy, the compassionate patron saint of Ireland.