The history of St. Patrick’s Day is rich with culture and a wonderful story to share with friends and family. What’s the story of St. Patrick? Where did he come from, what did he do, and why is there a day dedicated to his memory? Here we’ll pull the cover off the rich history of St. Patrick’s Day and maybe even set some myths straight about this March holiday.
Let’s start at the beginning. The Roman Empire had spread far and wide in the centuries before St. Patrick’s birth, encompassing much of the known world. From the sands of the East to the stunning shores of France and beyond, legions had conquered and trampled opposition into dust.
Ever hungry for more, the Romans looked to the shores of Britain as a new conquest in 43 CE. While Julius Ceasar had visited Britain previously, it was Claudius who actually ordered the initial invasion of the British Isles in 43 CE. The Romans were initially successful in their conquest, and conquered several native tribes and establishing a foothold in southeastern Britain.
Fast forward to the alte 300s CE. Britain is still under Roman occupation, and somewhere in the country, a man is born who will later be known as St. Patrick. It’s unclear what his name was for certain, but St. Patrick changed his name shortly after becoming a priest.
St. Patrick wasn’t born in Ireland, but he is the patron saint of the country anyway. This is mostly due to his efforts in converting the Celtic druid population to Christianity. He was widely successful in this regard.
At just 16, St. Patrick was kidnapped and sold into slavery. He spent much of his adolescence in Ireland learning the language and culture of the nation before heading back to Britain. This was only after he was captured again and spent time in France.
The Vision of St. Patrick
Patrick claims to have had a vision that convinced him to bring Christianity to the Celts. To make a very long and complex story short, Patrick baptized hundreds of thousands of people in Ireland, where he wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms by the largely pagan population. It’s been said he also helped found over 300 churches on the island.
Symbolism and The St. Patrick’s Day Holiday
Have you ever wondered why the shamrock is associated with St. Patrick’s Day? The folklore says that St. Patrick used this three-leaf clover-shaped plant to teach the Celts about the Holy Trinity.
While St. Patrick isn’t technically a canonized Saint in the Catholic Church, his efforts in Ireland brought him much renown, even after his death. A feast date was established to commemorate his life and efforts, and you can guess the date; March 17th. Patrick is believed to have died on March 17th, 461.
This tradition was brought to America during the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s, when potato crops died off across Ireland and caused starvation on a massive scale. This led thousands of Irish people to leave for the promise of a better life in America, who had become something of an industrial powerhouse on the global scale by that point.
Once in America, the Irish established their traditions in predominantly Irish neighborhoods in big cities like Boston. In 1737, Boston was the first major US city to host a St. Patrick’s Day parade. From then on, the tradition has grown in popularity.
It’s no secret that St. Patrick’s day is widely celebrated nowadays, with people wearing green, sporting shamrocks and leprechaun hats, and more. The green color is actually a by-product of the Irish revolution against British rule. Before, the color associated with St. Patrick was actually blue.
So why do people drink so much during the holiday? The St. Patrick’s day feast offered a break from the restrictions of Lent for Catholics. Hence, they could eat and drink as much as they wanted for one day. Even late into the 20th century, drinking on St. Patrick’s day wasn’t as widespread a phenomenon as it is now.
With marketing pushes by some popular beer brands in the 80s and 90s, St. Patrick’s Day became much more commercialized, giving birth to the alcohol-soaked holiday we know today. The bottom line? St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t always a holiday for drinking!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day
However you choose to celebrate the holiday, Bumble Bee Baskets wants to wish you a happy, healthy, and safe St. Paddy’s day. Our gift baskets make excellent gifts for any occasion, so if you’re looking for a gift, you can browse our store here.