Saint Patrick Tradition & History
St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the Roman Catholic feast day of the patron saint of Ireland.
St. Patrick died on March 17, 461. But did you know that he wasn’t even Irish.
St Patrick’s birth name was Maewyn. He was born in Roman Britain. He was kidnapped into slavery and brought to Ireland.
He escaped to a monastery in Gaul (France) and converted to Christianity. He went back to Ireland in 432 as a missionary.
While Christianity had already taken hold in the country, tradition has it that Patrick confronted the Druids at Tara and abolished their pagan rites, making Christianity more widespread.
Patrick became a bishop and after his death was named Ireland’s patron saint. Celebrations in Ireland were understated though.
When the Irish emigrated to the U.S., they created the bigger celebrations and parades known today.
Eighteenth century Irish soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War held the first St. Patrick Day parades. The celebrations became a way for the Irish to connect with their roots after they moved to America.
In 1762, the first New York City parade took place. It wasn’t until 1798, the year of the Irish Rebellion, that the color green became officially associated with the day.
Up until the rebellion, the color associated with St. Patrick was blue, as it was featured both in the royal court and on ancient Irish flags.
But as the British wore red, the Irish chose to wear green, and they sang the song “The Wearing of the Green” during the rebellion, cementing the color’s relevance in Irish history.
As for the green beer, that’s an even later addition. In fact, it wasn’t until the late 20th century that Ireland repealed a law that initially kept everything – pubs included – shut down for the day.
Since then, thanks to a marketing push from Budweiser in the 1980s, downing beer has become a common way to celebrate, regardless of how closely it’s tied to the actually meaning of St. Patrick himself.