In reality, Saint Patrick was a patron saint who brought Christianity to Ireland. No one is positive about his identity, but most historians believe that Saint Patrick was actually a man named Maewyn Succat who was born around 373 A.D. in Scotland or Britain. Religion was not new to him because of his upbringing by his wealthy father deacon Calpurnius, and grandfather Potitus, a priest to the people of Bannavem Taburniae. When he turned 16, he was taken into captivity by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. In the "Confessio" of Saint Patrick, which is an autobiography that he himself wrote, he states that he was a shepherd while in captivity, and one night in a dream that the lord told him to escape and flee the country. After he escaped and boarded a ship, he returned home to Britain. He attended the Church in Auxerre in Gaul where he studied to become a priest, and later a bishop. After he became a priest, he changed his name to Patrick.
After he became a bishop, he returned to Ireland in order to convert the Irish people from their Celtic paganism to Christianity in 432. Legend has it that at the age of sixty, he used a green shamrock as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to teach the people about Christian doctrine. Loved by the Irish people, he ministered to them for the next thirty years until his death on March 17, 460A.D.
Since the time of his death, the Irish has observed Saint Patrick's Day as a religious holiday for well over a thousand years. Traditionally, the Irish people would attend mass in the morning and celebrate in the evening. Even though this holiday fell during the middle of the Christian season of Lent, the rules about consuming meat where waived to allow the traditional feast of cabbage and bacon. It wasn't until the 70's that Ireland allowed pubs and bars to be open on Saint Patrick's Day. Up until that time, it was observed as a religious public holiday. After realizing the opportunity to increase revenue, Ireland decided to play upon the countries holiday to drive tourism to the area. This tactic has worked well considering almost a million tourist take part in the celebrations in Duplin in recent years. Technically, the first celebration of St. Patty's Day in America occurred in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1737. The first parade for this holiday did not take place in Ireland. The first parade commenced in New York City in 1762. As this trend grew over the years, immigrants with a newfound patriotism for their Mother Ireland began creating Irish Aid societies. From these groups the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian Society were formed. Today cities all over the United States participate in the celebration of Saint Patrick's Day.
Some Interesting Facts About Saint Patrick's Day
1. The color that was originally associated with Saint Patrick's Day was blue. Because of the use of the shamrock it is now associated with green.
2. Saint Patrick's Day didn't become an official public holiday in Ireland until 1903.
3. The first parade held in Ireland to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day was in 1931.
4. The Catholic Church will often change the date of Saint Patrick's Day in any given year that it coincidence with other religious observance like Palm Sunday.
5. The shortest Saint Patrick's Day parade is the distance of 100 yards. It starts at one pub and ends at another. This parade is held in Dripsey, Cork.
6. Saint Patrick's Day is the busiest day of the year for bars.
7. The Shamrock is the National Flower in Ireland.
8. Saint Patrick is best known for driving the snakes out of Ireland. If truth be known, there technically were never any snakes in Ireland to begin with.
9. Many cities use green vegetative dyes to pour into the river to make it turn green on Saint Patrick's Day. Chicago started this trend in 1962.
10. BeannachtaÃ na FÃ©ile PÃ¡draig is the Gaelic expression for "luck of the Irish."
11. This expression rose from the legend about the capture of leprechauns. Once captured a leprechaun would give you gold.
12. Saint Patrick left behind two sets of works, the Confessio and his Epistola.
13. His jawbone is reserved in a silver shrine.
14. Many Catholic places of worship around the world are named after Saint Patrick.
15. It is customary to celebrate the day drinking Irish Whiskey!
May the Luck of the Irish be with you this St. Patty's Day!