St Patrick’s Day is around the corner and I am once again wondering why it’s such a big deal. I honestly ask myself these questions every year; who is this St Patrick, why are we celebrating him, and why does it involve so much alcohol? This year will be different though. I’m going to find these answers and I will see if there’s a way they can apply to you.
The occasion was established in 1631 when the Church hosted a Feast Day honoring St. Patrick. He had been Patron Saint of Ireland who had died around the fifth century—a whopping 12 centuries before the modern version of the holiday was first observed. In 1798, the year of the Irish Rebellion, the color green became officially associated with the day. Surprisingly, the color blue used to be the color most associated with the occasion.
St Patrick, let’s talk about this fella. I already knew he was the patron saint of Ireland but that was it. The patron saint… hmmm, I wonder if that’s why we call bar go-ers patrons??? Maybe not. Anyways, turns out Saint Patrick is the person that spread Christianity throughout Ireland. He was a slave from England brought to Ireland and then escaped. Years later he returned to Ireland as a missionary and spread Christianity. He used the shamrock as a way to explain the Holy Trinity. Here is the part that I found the most entertaining, even though it’s definitely not true, our boy Pat drove the snakes out of Ireland. Yup, Ireland was snakeless after our legendary Saint decided to get rid of them. I would like to take this moment to say that I think snakes get a bad wrap. I feel like Saint Patrick and Samual L Jackson would have got along quite nicely.
The drinking part is tricky to answer. Based on what I’ve read it’s a deep-rooted cultural tradition to partake in food and drink. The primary Irish ‘scoops’ seem to be beer and whiskey. I believe in the modern era restaurants and bars really leaned into this aspect of the tradition to increase their sales. Stiofán Ó Cadhla, a senior lecturer in folklore and ethnology in University College Cork said that St Patrick himself apparently liked to have a drink too. The strongest reason behind the drinking to me is that it is a break in Lent. Christians are allowed to put aside their Lenten restrictions on food and alcohol consumption on this day.
Here are some interesting factoids:
Here’s what I’ve reminded myself of in this process; People love and need tradition. Traditions create a wonderful way to bring us all together and as social beings, we need that. Even though there are so many traditions that we don’t even understand the root of yet, they continue to create a positive impact on our lives. Mythology is a deeply powerful tool that can resonate in ways beyond their direct purpose. We are social creatures and community is built through the stories we tell ourselves. These stories result in traditions and patterns of living that elevate our quality of life and keep us connected to each other.
Stay Dope - Cliffnotes xoxo