Saint Patrick's Day

March 20th, 2018

Around the world Irish people celebrated the Saint Patrick’s Day last Saturday. Saint Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious celebration that happens annually on 17 March to mark the death date of the most commonly recognised patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick. It is also a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Newfoundland, and Labrador and Montserrat. Because of the Irish immigrants even in the United States it has become a popular holiday since 1762.

It is believed St. Patrick, a Roman-Britain-born Christian missionary, was born in the late fourth century and is credited with bringing Christianity to the Irish people. It is also believed St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland. However, post-glacial Ireland never actually had snakes. Many believe that the term “snakes” referred to the serpent symbolism of the Druids of that time and place. Today, there are no snakes to be found!

Most people, whether they are Irish or not, wear green on this day. One of the Irish traditions is to pinch anyone who is not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day. The colour green, pots of gold, shamrock, and leprechaun are often associated with the celebration. So on this day people wear green and eat corned beef and cabbage. The shamrock, Ireland’s national flower, was worn as a badge on the lapel. Three is Ireland’s magic number and the three petals that make up the shamrock are supposed to bring good luck. The three leaves also represent the Trinity in the Christian religion.

The leprechaun is a small Irish fairy. He is dressed like a shoemaker, with pointed shoes and hat. He also wears a leather apron. Leprechauns are supposed to be unfriendly little men who live alone in the forest, spending all of their time making shoes and guarding their treasures. If someone catches a leprechaun, he will be forced to tell where he hides all his pots of gold. However, the leprechaun must be watched at all times. If his captor looks away, the leprechaun will vanish along with his treasure.

Since 1962, the Chicago River is dyed kelly green during the celebration. Forty tons of dye is dumped into the river, which changes colour for four to five hours. A popular pastime of St. Patrick’s Day is for adults to drink green beer. Around the world, millions of pints of beer are consumed on St. Patrick’s Day, amounting to more than $245 million!