This Sunday, March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day. The fountain in downtown Augusta will be green The Augusta Common getting cleaned form the post parade festivities. Most people associate St. Patrick’s Day with green attire and shamrocks, have you ever wondered about the history of this fun holiday?
St. Patrick was considered the patron saint of Ireland, even though he was actually born in Roman Britain in the late 300s AD. Surprisingly, his real name wasn’t even Patrick – it was Maewyn Succat. He didn’t care for that name so he eventually chose to be called Patricius. St. Patrick was captured by Irish pirates when he was 16 years old and enslaved for 6 years. During this time, he converted to Christianity.
St. Patrick attempted an escape back to Britain but was captured again by the French. He was held in France but was eventually released back to Britain and studied Christianity well into his 20s. He eventually claimed that he had a vision to bring Christianity to the Irish people, who were largely pagan at the time, so he made his way back to Ireland. When he arrived, he was not greeted with a warm welcome, Eventually, he began to gain followers and spread Christian ideologies, baptizing thousands of people and helping form over 300 churches.
Folklore tells that St. Patrick was responsible for popularizing the shamrock, a staple decoration for the holiday. According to legend, he used a shamrock to teach the Irish about the Christian Holy Trinity.
Although he’s not technically a canonized saint under the Catholic church, St. Patrick is well-recognized throughout the Christian world. The holiday started as a religious celebration in the 17th century in remembrance of his life and his contribution to Ireland. His death was believed to be March 17, 461 AD, explaining the date for the holiday. In the early 18th century, Irish immigrants brought the tradition to the American colonies and began to coin the symbol of Irish heritage through St. Patrick. The holiday is so widely recognized that it’s thought to be celebrated in more countries than any other national festival.
As far as why we wear green to celebrate, look back to the Irish Rebellion of 1798. This is when Irish soldiers wore green as they fought off the British and their uprising of British rule in Ireland. Green became Ireland’s mainstay color and people began to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day in solidarity.