By Amelia Lowry
In 2012, Instagram was congested with Grumpy Cat memes. In 2013, it was Frozen. And every year, on March 17th, the pictures of everyone drinking green beer make their appearance.
It’s St. Patrick’s Day — the one time of year when it’s actually appropriate to wear your “Kiss me, I’m Irish” merchandise (and receive zero kisses). This is the holiday to celebrate gingers, the color green, and pinching people. Here we are, finally at the one day where it’s socially acceptable to cozy up to people for money because you’re not a gold-digger, you’re just a leprechaun!
So, who is this Saint Patrick and why is he celebrated by canoodling “Irish” people and drinking green beer?
Well, in the late 300’s, Ireland was occupied primarily by Pagans and the like. It was a less-than-ideal environment for the teenaged Patrick, who was captured from his home of Roman Britain and forced to live in Ireland as a slave. But, despite this adversity, Patrick prayed and communicated with God every day. One night when he was twenty, Patrick received a message from God in his dreams, telling him that he could escape Ireland by going to the coast. Sure enough, Patrick was able to break free and go home to Roman Britain. For a few years he studied under a bishop, St. Germanus, eventually became a priest, and then later on, a Bishop. Thus, he became Saint Patrick. He was called to Ireland, where he felt it was his duty to bring the love and light of God.
At first, people tried to kill him. But once he began to talk, people began to listen — his trick was to explain the gospel using a shamrock, a funny little leaf that everyone could understand. People liked that — after all, it was a pretty clover way to discuss religion. Over time, thousands of people converted to Christianity, and entire kingdoms were evangelized. After a long life of building churches and teaching faith, Saint Patrick died on March 17, 461.
So, why do people celebrate St. Patrick’s day?
For at least one thousand years, the Irish have observed St. Patrick’s Day as a holiday. March 17 usually falls during lent, so one of the exciting things about St. Patrick’s Day was that it was an excuse for the Irish to cheat and eat bad stuff for a day. (Although, if their beer was green back then, people might have gotten more than drunk. Like, probably dead.) The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in America, in 1762. People played music and embraced their Irishness, probably did some jigs and tweedily-doo, had some chinwags.
During the Potato Famine of 1845, a lot of sad and hungry Irish people emigrated to America to live better lives. Unfortunately, America was a little stingy and didn’t feel like sharing space with Catholics — let alone Irish Catholics. So every year on St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish people would hit the streets and celebrate the Saint that made their country what it was, and the “pure-blooded” Americans would sit on the sidelines, angrily waving their “Vote Trump 1850” flags.
There are so many different ways to celebrate this holiday. As mentioned before, parades are historically the way to go, and you can still attend them today. Although, today, the parades seem a bit more theatrical than they were 150 years ago. Another way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is by wearing green! This is particularly recommended if you are of ten years of age or below — you might get pinched if you show up to school greenless. For anyone older than ten, wearing green is still a verybig St. Patrick’s Day tradition (although, if you’re too edgy or if green doesn’t match your ~aesthetic~, don’t worry about it). Some people celebrate by searching for a four-leaf clover. It’s pretty discouraging to search through thousands of 3-leafers for that special little weed, but you might be the lucky 1%! And if all of that is too much work, you can always just go around pretending to be a leprechaun.
Leprechauns, according to myth, are traditionally crotchety, live alone, and make shoes in their free time. They are said to be about two feet tall. The cleverest of Irish fairies, they can and would do anything to escape human capture. Perhaps this is why leprechauns are everywhere — they are just so relatable. If a leprechaun is caught by a human, they can use magic to make an escape, by simply vanishing into thin air or by granting three wishes. For this reason, Irish people sometimes go looking for leprechauns so that they can have their wishes granted. For a tutorial on how to catch a leprechaun this St. Patrick’s Day, click here. Leprechauns are also supposed to be the bomb at playing music so if you
end up being successful on your quest, make sure to ask to hear some sick beats.
Most Americans observe St. Patrick’s Day in some way or another — whether they’re wearing green or making a point not to in order to be edgy. While it is a small holiday, it’s a good time to appreciate and be thankful for the liberties we have. St. Patrick had a pretty rough life yet still found ways to flourish despite this (and it is his day, after all). So next time you’re invited to a St. Patrick’s Day party, you can tell everyone what you’ve learned and who this St. Patrick guy really is. Then again, if you aren’t invited to a party, never fret! You can always crawl into a hole somewhere in Ireland and never come out again, and live the rest of your life as a leprechaun.
Amelia Lowry is a Sophomore at Barbara Ingram.