Grab your corned beef and cabbage and your shamrocks as it is time to celebrate St. Paddy’s day, or St. Patrick’s Day as it is more formally known. Even if you don’t have a little of the Irish in you (and most of us do have a wee bit), you can still celebrate the meaning of St. Paddy’s Day on March 17th.
The true meaning of St. Patrick’s Day
For the truest meaning of this Irish holiday, we need to become acquainted with Maewyn Succat, born in Roman Britain in 387 AD. Maewyn was kidnapped, sold into slavery, and brought to Ireland. He escaped from his captors, fleeing to a monastery in Gaul (now France). While there, he converted to Christianity and decided to go back to Ireland in 432 as a missionary.
Patrick, as he was renamed at the monastery, helped spread Christianity throughout Ireland, at times synthesizing it with the Druidic beliefs. He became a bishop while in Ireland and after his death was named the patron saint of Ireland. The shamrock is symbolic of St. Patrick, because it is said that he used this three-leaf clover to explain the Christian trinity to his followers.
While St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated in Ireland quietly for many years after that, it was made an official holiday by the following churches early in the 17th century: the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, the Anglican Communion, and the Eastern Orthodox Church. The holiday celebrates Patrick’s effort in spreading Christianity throughout Ireland. It has come to also symbolize a celebration of the Irish heritage, culture, and traditions.
St. Patrick’s Day celebrations
The first St. Paddy’s Day parades were held by the Irish soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War. The big St Patrick’s Day celebrations became a way for the Irish to celebrate their culture after moving to America. Corned beef and cabbage became part of the celebration as it was all Irish immigrants to America could afford in the 1900s.
St. Patrick’s Day in the UK
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in London falls on the Sunday closest to March 17th is known for its pageantry, spectacular floats, talented marching bands from every corner of the UK, sporting clubs, and the special Irish dancers. The 2016 parade route winds along through London’s well-known landmarks, beginning midday at Piccadilly on March 13th. A whole week of festivities culminates in the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Manchester, Birmingham, and Edinburgh also have wonderful St. Patrick’s Day parades and festivities. So raise a pint or two in your favourite Irish pub and then come out and join the fun as we either celebrate the Irish or the Irish in us.
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