On March 17, millions of people across the United States celebrate in the Irish tradition known as St. Patrick’s Day. The holiday has been around for hundreds of years, and while the history of the holiday may be less of the focus today, it is still an important element. Understanding the history of St. Patrick’s day can help a child appreciate it more and see why this holiday is still celebrated today through parades, colors and meals.
The holiday is named after a religious figure who actually was never born in Ireland. At a young age, St. Patrick was kidnapped by pirates and forced into Ireland. He escaped his job as a slave and lived on the rich, green Ireland shores. He later left Ireland, became religious and returned to spread the faith of Christianity. He lived there for 30 more years, where he spread knowledge and writing through the Irish people. March 17 is the day he was rumored to die, and that was chosen as the official St. Patrick’s Day.
A common St. Patrick’s Day tradition is to wear the color green. There are multiple reasons for this and they have to do with country of Ireland itself. Ireland’s flags featured a prominent green stripe. The northern country is also known for its rich landscape full of bright green shades of grass. The Irish shamrock is also green and a traditional St. Patrick’s Day symbol.
St. Patrick’s Day has become a celebration of the Irish as much as it has of St. Patrick. A traditional meal eaten on St. Patrick’s Day is corned beef and cabbage. Corned beef originated in Ireland and the country was one of the biggest exporters of the food for years. In the United States, the heavily Irish-populated city of Boston celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in 1737. Today, a parade is still held there every year along with other large cities like Chicago, New York and even Montreal, Canada.
St. Patrick’s Day is known as a day of luck and, for centuries, people have collected rare four-leaf clovers for luck. Four-leaf clovers are hard to find, and because of this, finding one is supposed to bring extra luck to a person’s life. Old legends state that each clover represents a spiritual helper. These are hope, happiness, love and faith.
Another celebrated figure besides St. Patrick is the leprechaun. Leprechauns are magical mini-people that have been in Irish tales and myths for years. Old stories tell the tale of the leprechaun who is a shoemaker that protects gold. Whoever discovers the gold can keep it as long as he also watches the leprechaun. The leprechaun has evolved numerous times and today includes a cereal mascot, WWE professional wrestler and horror movie icon.
Alan Donahue started writing professionally in 2003. He has been published in the Norwich Free Academy "Red & White," UNLV's "Rebel Yell" and on various websites. He is an expert on wrestling, movies and television. He placed second in the NFO Screenwriting Contest and received filmmaking awards from Manchester Community College and Norwich Free Academy. He currently attends Academy of Art University.