March 17 honors St. Patrick. One of Christianity’s most popular saints, he is revered for his devotion and loyalty to the religion. Christians all over the world celebrate his life on this festive holiday.
Who Was Saint Patrick?
The patron saint of Ireland, Patrick was born in Britain and, at age 16, was enslaved by Irish pirates. For six years he was held captive in Ireland before fleeing with British sailors back to his homeland. In his memoir, he describes seeing a vision which prompted him to return to Ireland and join the priesthood. St. Patrick spent the rest of his life traveling across Ireland, teaching the ways of Christianity. It is believed that he is responsible for converting the large majority of the country into Christians.
St. Patrick led a very humble life. He was fully devoted to Christ and often sacrificed his own needs to help others. Dedicated to spreading the gospel, Patrick was credited with building churches throughout Ireland. His modesty and total dedication to his beliefs made him well known and well loved in the country. St. Patrick died on March 17, 461 A.D.
Folklore and Facts
Many depictions of St. Patrick show him with snakes at his feet. For centuries, stories were told of how he banished all of the snakes from Ireland. These tales have been proven to be just that. Historians have found that the climate of Ireland is unsuitable for the serpents and there is no proof that they have ever existed in the country. The stories of St. Patrick and his snakes are, in all likelihood, metaphorical.
Throughout the Bible, snakes are used to represent evil. Patrick was known to have pushed the pagans and druids out of Ireland. Felt by Christians to be evil in spirit, these groups most likely signified the snakes alluded to in St. Patrick’s lore.
It is interesting to note that green was not always the color associated with St. Patrick. The color blue was traditionally linked to the saint. There is even a shade of blue called Saint Patrick blue. Historians believe that the color green became associated with St. Patrick and the holiday named for him, because of the vibrant greens of the rolling hills of the Emerald Isle. Also, St. Patrick was known to carry a shamrock with him. He used the green plant to explain the holy trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) to the people he was attempting to convert to Catholicism. The shamrock has long been a symbol of good luck to the Irish people.
Celebrating the day
St. Patrick’s Day is a day of festivities, including parades and concerts. March 17 is a national holiday in Ireland. The capital city of Dublin draws one million spectators take part in the St. Patrick Festival each year. People wearing green from head to toe can be found in cities across the United States, Canada and Australia, commemorating the saint with lavish parades and parties.
Irish foods such as corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread and shepherd’s pie are served to honor the country’s heritage. Irish dancers perform intricate step dances, displaying the beautiful costumes and impressive athleticism of the traditional routines. Leprechauns, tiny creatures of Irish folk lore, bring gold and other treats to children.
This holiday brings with it luck and abundance. Enhance your good fortune by preparing a ritual bath. Steep Lucky Clover Herb Bath in boiling water. Let the water cool and strain the liquid. Draw a bath and light a 14 day plain green candle. Pour the strained mixture over yourself while in the tub. Soak in the herb bath and focus your intention on improving your luck. Wear a Four Leaf Clover talisman to draw success to you.
However you chose to celebrate, St. Patrick’s Day is a day of festivity and remembrance of Ireland’s patron saint. Erin go Bragh!