The history behind St. Patrick's Day

Why do we celebrate this day of green and good luck?

The story behind St. Patrickâ??s Day begins around the 4th century when a young British boy named Patrick was kidnapped to Ireland to become a slave. A few years later this boy grew up and developed a strong faith in God and Ireland. This man would become who we know as Saint Patrick.

"He eventually escaped from Ireland and went back to England. Then he became a priest, then a bishop with a dream of returning to Ireland and bringing along Christianity. So he did return there in his mid 40's to become a missionary to Ireland. Ireland became Christianized fairly quickly, he was effective in his ministry," said Father Chris Cordes of Mary Immaculate Catholic Church.

After his death on March 17 in the early 5th century, the Irish wanted Patrickâ??s memory to live on by remembering him every year on this date and patronized him as a saint. Thatâ??s how the concept of St. Patrickâ??s Day came about.

"It grew into a celebration, first of faith and Irish culture. The people of Ireland grew it into a big celebration which of course spread across the different parts of the world and it's now turned into a worldwide celebration," Cordes said.

What about the iconic items such as the color green, the shamrock and the leprechaun and their significance to St. Patrick's Day? While some have an Irish significance, Father Chris says there is a bit of an American influence.

"We associate green with Ireland so it became the official color of St. Patrick. The shamrock has a religious significance. The legend has it that St. Patrick used the three leaves as a symbol of the trinity...the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to help people understand God.The leprechaun originated in the Irish folklore as a character that took care of the fairies' shoes. The Americanized version created a more happy and jolly fellow."

What about the concept behind good luck? Does it have a connection with Saint Patrick?

"He was a man of faith and goodness. So he would bring blessings to the people. That's the term we would associated more with St. Patrick. So really the word blessing is more religious while culturally we would use the word luck with good things that will happen to you," Cordes said.

No matter how you celebrate St. Patrickâ??s Day, take a moment to remember a man who had faith and spread it to a now cheerful and strong-spirited Ireland.

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Come and visit the Irish spirit in St. Patrick

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