History of St. Patrick’s Day

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Who Was St. Patrick?

He lived during the fifth century, and was born in Roman Britain, he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He later escaped but returned to Ireland and was credited with bringing Christianity to its people.

Perhaps the most well-known legend of St. Patrick is that he explained the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) using the three leaves of a native Irish clover, the shamrock.

Modern St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, at least in the US, are likely characterized by commercial lucky charms and green beer—all of which has very little to do with the historical figure of the saint. As it turns out, it took centuries for the holiday to accrue the elements that now seem crucial to its celebrations.

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17, the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 years. On St. Patrick’s Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink and feast–on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

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