The Meaning of St. Patrick’s Day and the Color Green
Saint Patrick, a fifth-century Christian missionary, was born in late-fourth-century Roman Britain before being forcibly transferred to Ireland as a slave at the age of sixteen. While being held captive by a band of Irish raiders, he discovered his faith. Saint Patrick fled the bonds of slavery only to return to Ireland in 432 CE with the goal of converting the Irish to Christianity.
Before his death on March 17, 461 AD, the patron saint established churches, monasteries, schools, and other institutions throughout the country, forever marking that date in history.
Given the significance of the number three in 5th-century pagan Ireland, there are many myths and legends associated with the revered Christian saint, such as the story of him chasing all the snakes out of Ireland or teaching pagans about the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) using a three-leaf clover or shamrock.
Paganism is a term coined by fourth-century Christians to describe people in the Roman Empire who followed non-Christian religions or ethnic cults. Natural cycles witnessed in the world around us have great spiritual resonance for Pagans.
Saint Patrick became a historical figure and the patron saint of Ireland as the seventh century came to a close. Although the festival was originally held to commemorate the saint’s death anniversary with religious feasts and ceremonies, it is now widely recognized as a worldwide secular celebration of Irish culture, heritage, and customs.
Because of the influence of Irish immigrants, the holiday is widely observed in the United States, Canada, and Australia, as well as Japan, Singapore, and Russia.
People turned what began as an ordinary feast day in 1631 in honor of Saint Patrick into a chance to revel and let loose because it was right in the middle of Lent. Lent is a 40-day period in the Christian religion preceding Easter, during which people promise to abstain from the things they like as part of the ritual. In 1904, St. Patrick’s Day in Houston was declared a public holiday.
Other modern St. Patrick’s Day customs include eating specially prepared dishes such as corned beef and cabbage, beef and Guinness pie, and Irish stew, watching city-wide parades featuring talented Irish performers and musicians, drinking green-colored alcohol at pubs decorated in green, and participating in a variety of other activities geared toward both tourists and locals.