St. Patrick’s Day is officially observed on March 17 each year, which is believed to have been the date St Patrick died in the 5th Century.
Strange as it may seem, the man who would become St. Patrick was born in Britain (part of the Roman Empire at the time) as Maewyn Succat in the late 4th century. His family were Christians, but it’s said that Maewyn himself was an atheist until he reached 16 years of age. His life changed at that point when he was kidnapped by pirates and taken to Ireland. After 6 years in captivity herding sheep, he escaped by walking then sailing back to Britain. During this time he became convinced that the Lord had protected him and safely taken him home. In a dream he was told to preach the Gospel, and for the next fifteen years he studied as a priest in Britain where he was renamed Patricius.
Finally he returned to Ireland to preach the Lord’s word, not an easy task in a country largely pagan at the time. Travelling from village to village he spread Christianity and was responsible for the founding of many churches.
Celebrants wear a shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day because, legend says, St. Patrick used its three leaves to explain the Holy Trinity in his teachings. Whether there is any truth behind this legend is unsure.
What is sure is that the day is celebrated with much frivolity and drinking!
In earlier times pubs in Ireland were forced by law to shut down for the holiday and drinking alcohol on St. Patrick’s Day was actually frowned upon until the late 1970s. It was a huge marketing campaign by Budweiser in the 80’s that insisted drinking beer was an integral part of St Patricks Day! The rest has disappeared into a somewhat drunken haze…