St. Patrick's Day
Mar 14, 2012 07:34PM
● By Anonymous
St. Patrick's Day isn't even a legal holiday in the United States—not that that stops anyone from celebrating. (Fun fact: it's actually recognized in one place: Suffolk County, Massachusetts.) But it is a legal holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador, northern Ireland, and Montserrat. it's also recognized by the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, the Anglican Communion, and the Eastern Orthodox Church.
The holiday started out as a feast day in honor of Saint Patrick. As a child, Patrick was kidnapped, and taken as a slave to Ireland. Eventually, he escaped captivity, and boarded a ship that returned him to his native homeland in Britain. According to his Confession, he did so after having a dream in which God told him to flee to the coast. On his return, he joined the Church in Auxerre in Gaul, and studied to become a priest.
But, in 432, a bishop called him back to Ireland to Christianize the Irish from their polytheistic religion. Irish folklore holds that he used the shamrock to explain the Trinity. From that point on, Patrick became a fixture in the Irish church.
In Ireland and the other countries where it's officially observed, St. Patrick's day is usually marked by going to church, wearing green (even though the original color associated with St. Patrick was blue), and taking a break from Lent. That's where the feasting and drinking came from.
Even though the holiday retains its religious connotations, it's become a larger celebration of Irish culture. Parades take place all over the country, and Dublin and Downpatrick host multi-day festivals. A number of sports leagues in Ireland hold championships or tournaments on St. Patrick's Day.
If you'd like to celebrate closer to home, check out some of the following: