St. Patrick Day

Lexi Tallmon, Staff Reporter

  Although St. Patrick’s Day is known for traditions such as wearing green clothing, shamrocks, and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, few people know the history behind these age old traditions.

    All of these iconic customs point back to the death of Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick.

   A Christian missionary and Irish bishop in the fifth century, Saint Patrick spent many years converting the pagan Irish to Christianity. He purportedly used a three-leaf shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish, which is where the tradition of shamrocks originated.

    Saint Patrick is often depicted with a cross in one hand and a shamrock in the other on many stained-glass windows throughout the country.

  The tradition of wearing green came about because green is the color commonly associated with Catholics in Ireland. It was also used on the green harp flag by the Irish Catholic Confederation in the 1640’s, and is associated with Irish nationalism. Since 1680, Green ribbons and shamrocks have been worn on St. Patrick’s Day. Orange, another color frequently worn on St. Patrick’s Day, is the color associated with Irish Protestant Christians.

  On St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol from lent are lifted for the day. This contributes to the reason why drinking has become such a defining part of the celebration. At the end of all the festivities, a shamrock is put into the bottom of a mug, filled with alcohol, and drunk as a toast to St. Patrick and Ireland, a tradition known as “drowning the shamrock.”

  Although St. Patrick’s Day is not an international holiday, countries such as Russia, Canada, Japan, and the United States still celebrate. Parades and other celebrations are held all around the world. Apart from the larger festivities, many families also hold their own personal traditions.

  “My family is part Irish, so we have an Irish dinner. Usually, it is corn beef and cabbage,” Junior Logan Moravec said.

  Apart from the celebrations, St. Patrick’s Day has earned its fair share of criticism over the years. What once was a day to honor a patron saint is now viewed as a day for excessive alcohol and partying.

  “St. Patrick’s Day is just a day for people to go out to bars, get drunk and have the potential to get in a car accident while driving home,” Junior Samantha Stamper said.

  Over time, St. Patrick’s Day has lost its significance. Many people know nothing about the history or importance of the holiday. Celebrations are simply held for the sake of celebrating. Outside of Ireland, St. Patrick has been all but forgotten.

  “I feel like St. Patrick’s Day has lost its meaning because people use it as an excuse to drink without knowing what it’s about,” Junior Mckenna Hackett said.

  Although St. Patrick’s Day is sometimes abused and celebrated for the wrong reasons, the traditions will never be truly lost. Every March 17, the Irish know exactly what they’re toasting to as they “drown the shamrock.”