What is Saint Patrick’s Day?
Saint Patrick's Day, also known as the Feast of Saint Patrick, is a cultural and religious celebration held on March 17th that commemorates the death of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated in more countries around the world than any other national festival, especially in the United States, Great Britain and Canada.
Who is Saint Patrick?
Patrick was a Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Much of what is known about Saint Patrick comes from the Declaration, which was allegedly written by Patrick himself. It is believed that he was born in Great Britain in the fourth century, into a wealthy family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church. At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland. He spent six years there working as a shepherd and during this time he "found God". The Declaration says that God told Patrick to flee to the coast, where a ship would be waiting to take him home. After making his way home, Patrick went on to become a priest.
According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. The Declaration says that he spent many years evangelizing in the northern half of Ireland and converted thousands. Tradition holds that he died on March 17th and was buried at Downpatrick, a small town close to Belfast. Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland's foremost saint.
Why do we wear green on St. Patrick's Day?
The color green has been associated with Ireland since at least the 1640's, when the green harp flag was used by the Irish Catholic Confederation. Green ribbons and shamrocks have been worn on St. Patrick's Day since at least the 1680's. The phrase "wearing of the green" comes from a song of the same name, which laments United Irishmen supporters being persecuted for wearing green. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the color green and its association with St. Patrick's Day grew.