St. Patrick’s Day is a very largely celebrated holiday, especially in the United States. But how did this Irish holiday come to be celebrated?
Well, since most of the world is under isolation or quarantine, I thought I could share a history lesson with all of you. Maybe it will distract you from the chaos of the world.
To start off, we must first understand who exactly St. Patrick was. Patrick was British. That’s right: the patron saint of Ireland wasn’t even Irish. At the age of 16, Patrick was captured by a group of Irish attackers who were attacking his family’s grounds. He was then taken to Ireland for the next 6 years, where he worked as a shepherd. While there, since he didn’t have a lot of human interaction, he focused on religion. He eventually escaped back to Britain.
Back in Britain, Patrick received some kind of revelation telling him to go back to Ireland and spread Christianity. Patrick then began missionary training, which took him fifteen years. Once he became a priest, he traveled back to Ireland to help the Christians already there and spread Christianity. Patrick would try to combine the native Irish cultures with Christianity. He died on March 17, supposedly around 460.
Since then, St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated to commemorate St. Patrick. However, the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade was not held in Ireland but in America. It was held on March 17, 1601 in the Spanish colony of St. Augustine, in modern-day Florida. Since then, parades are held in most major cities in the United States as well as other countries every year on St. Patrick’s Day. It was Irish immigrants who would spread their revelry and merriment on this day, and that is why it ballooned into what it is now.
The really interesting part about this is that the Irish haven’t always been welcomed in many places. In the mid-1800s, Ireland was struck by a potato famine. Potatoes were easy to grow, and they produced a lot for the people. However, the potato that was being grown got hit with a plague that infected most of the crop. People began dying of starvation. It started to spread, and Ireland started panicking. A million died, and about a million more tried to emigrate to other places, especially the United States. Well in the United States at this time, people didn’t want the Irish coming in. They thought they would take all the jobs (sound familiar?). There were signs everywhere and a mass movement for NINA (No Irish Need Apply). People scorned Irish and their celebrations for the holiday.
It took a while, but political candidates realized that the Irish could be a powerful vote. And just like that, opinions began to shift. The Irish went from being despised and rejected to being accepted and appreciated. With that, St. Patrick’s Day became an incredibly joyous and celebrated holiday.
I know this year it’s a little different with the coronavirus, but there you have it. That’s the abridged history of how St. Patrick’s Day came about. I hope you learned something! I haven’t done a history one in a while, so I though I could share a history lesson with all of you!