St. Patrick’s Day – The History Behind the Party

St. Patrick's Day

For hundreds of years, we have celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. Every March 17, people wear green and party. Some people get drunk, while others hunt for leprechauns. Many do not the history behind St. Patrick’s Day or the reason we still celebrate it.

St. Patrick

Most of what we know of St. Patrick comes from tradition, because of when this saint lived. According to tradition, a boy was born in Roman Britain in the late 4th century, around 387 A.D. At the age of 16, Irish raiders kidnapped the young boy making him a slave. A few years later, he escaped.

After his escape he turned to Christianity, studying to become a priest. Then he felt called to go back to the land of his slavery, Ireland. At this point, he had changed his name to Patricius or Patrick. Following his God, he went and taught many about Christianity. A successful missionary, he baptized many people, ordained clerics, and set up churches. Tradition states that he died March 17 in the 5th century, still in Ireland. Later the pope made him a saint and March 17 as his feast day.

Celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day

Originally, the feast day of St. Patrick was a more subdued affair. Then the Irish started migrating to the colonies in America. Homesick, the Irish started bigger celebrations for the Irish saint, St. Patrick. In 1601, the colonies had the first parade to celebrate the day. Then in 1772, New York City put on a parade for St. Patrick’s Day.

The celebrations have only grown. Chicago routinely dyes part of the river green on March 17. New York continues the tradition of the parade. Many people will wear green and go out to party and get drunk on the day. My favorite tradition is children hunting for leprechauns.

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