Erin Go Bragh
Americans celebrate this holiday with the drinking of green beer, the eating of corned beef and cabbage, wearing of the green and watching parades. But do you know who he is and why it's celebrated? According to my paternal Grandma, I have a drop of Irish blood in me, though I am mostly of German and Dutch descent. So, I've decided to do some research and find out the who, what, where, when and why and report it here as a series over the next couple of weeks.
"St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17th. The Irish have observed this religious holiday for over a thousand years. St. Patrick is the the patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D. At the age of sixteen, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family's estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. After more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick escaped. According to his writing, a voice-which he believed to be God's-spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland. Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than fifteen years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission-to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish. Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish.
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."
Information courtesy of: http://www.history.com/content/stpatricksday/who-was-st.-patrick