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The Story of St. Patrick’s Day

How the Holiday began...

Kirstyn Black, Staff

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The color green, shamrocks, food, and music.  What do all these things have in common? The answer is St. Patrick’s Day.  March 17th is a day that has shaped many cultures and people in different aspects.  

St. Patrick’s Day has been, and continues to be, recognized for decades all over the world, but have you ever wondered where it all began?

According to, St. Patrick was born in Roman Britain, and began his life in a wealthy family.  At 16 years old he was kidnapped by a band of Irish raiders that were attacking his estate.  The Irish raiders took St. Patrick to Ireland to serve as a slave. During his years as a slave, he was forced to work as a shepherd, outside and alone.  As a result of his fear and loneliness, he came to faith and became a strong Christian. Six years after his kidnapping he was able to escape after he got a vision from the Lord telling him to leave Ireland.  After his escape, he traveled to Britain where he had yet another revelation. This revelation came in the dream where an angel told him to return back to Ireland and become a missionary in that area. As soon as he received this he began religious training, which lasted more than 15 years.  He then became an ordained priest and traveled to Ireland with two goals: minister to the current Christians in Ireland, and convert others to Christianity. Since he was held prisoner in Ireland, he already knew their culture and traditions which made his mission much easier. He began to use their traditional beliefs to bring them to Christianity.  Several years later historians believe that St. Patrick died on what March 17, 461.

The first St. Patrick’s Day celebration occurred in Ireland.  Families celebrated with church in the morning and parties in the afternoon.  Lenten probations, according to Catholic Online lenten prohibitions are Catholic Traditions set during the season of Lent (Ash Wednesday to Easter), were set aside for this day and the people of Ireland were allowed to partake as freely as they pleased while they danced and drank.  However, in 1845 the Great Potato Famine swept across Ireland causing people to migrate, due to starvation, to the U.S., taking their beliefs with them as they went.

On March 17, 1846, the migrated Irish citizens took to the streets to celebrate their first St. Patrick’s Day in the states.  A few days later those citizens saw printed in a newsp

aper that they were portrayed as being drunks and partiers. Offended the Irish set out to show to show the American people what and why this day is so special.

Today, over 1,500 years later, we still celebrate a man who had a large impact on history.  In the U.S. there are parades held in many different states, honoring St. Patrick. The people of Chicago celebrate by dyeing the Chicago River green once a year on this day only.  People also celebrate by having family gatherings, throwing parties, and going to church. This holiday has become commercialized as well with many decorative pieces for your home and things like Shamrock Shakes from McDonald’s.

This holiday has been through so much starting in Roman Britain and ending with celebrations that people all over the world can celebrate in unity with one another.  So don’t forget next time you think about St. Patrick’s Day, look past the green and Shamrock Shakes, to the true meaning, to the story of a boy who began just as normal as you.


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The Story of St. Patrick’s Day