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Who was St. Patrick and why do we celebrate?

It was John's Question that prompted this post. I almost told him we celebrate because it's my birthday, but I didn't figure John would buy that.  He seems like a really smart guy, so I thought I would tell him what I DO know.

First St. Patrick is the patron St. of Ireland.  We celebrate on March 17th because that's believed to be around the time of his death in the year 461.  Some little known facts:

  • it's an official religious holiday in Ireland
  • the date is changed if it falls on Holy week or Palm Sunday (happened in 1940 and 2008), but won't happen again until 2160 (I guess I'll miss that one)
  • St. Patrick was kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a teenager and claimed God told him in a dream how to escape and went back to Britain and became a priest like his Grandfather in a Christian Church
  • he used the shamrock to explain trinity to Irishmen
  • originally associated with blue, it was not until the Irish Army wore green on March 17th that the "wearing of the green" became part of the celebration
  • he is credited for bringing the written word to Ireland
  • Some additional Fun Facts

The original reason of the celebration was religious in tone and was to celebrate a Christian missionary that eventually became the patron Saint of Ireland, but like all religious celebrations it has become secular in nature in most countries.Those secular celebrations are about celebrating Irish heritage.  And over the years we've decided to let everyone or anyone be Irish on March 17th.

So John, my best answer to your question is we celebrate because is because Maewyn Succat was a great man, so great that legends still grow about him today over 16 centuries after his life. (By the way, no where in history is his real name revealed... it's one of those legends that says Maewyn Succat was his given name.  I have Irish roots and my husband an Irish mother.  My Donald (like everyone else in his family has a tattoo of a sharmrock) which is something I always said I was going to do "one day" since I was a girl.  And I suspect some day I will just go ahead and get it done.  Maybe when I turn 50 would be a good time.

I am sure the reasons vary as much as the celebrations.  In my house there is always cake and never green beer.  My Donald did have some single malt Irish Scotch with dinner.  And did I mention cake?  If you aren't Irish... we'll let you on Saint Patrick's Day.  And if you are Irish then I shouldn't have to be explaining all this to you and perhaps you have something to add.... feel free...



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18 commentsTammy Lankford • March 18 2012 11:28AM
Who was St. Patrick and why do we celebrate?
It was John's Question that prompted this post I almost told him we celebrate because it's my birthday but I didn't figure John would buy that. He seems like a really smart guy, so I thought I would tell him what I DO know. First St… more