Who Do we Honor Today?
As you can guess by the name, the celebration is dedicated to St Patrick - the patron saint of Ireland. He was the man who introduced Christianity to the country and baptized the citizens during the 5th century. Because of his lifelong contributions and services to the community, he has been recognized by the Catholic, the Anglican, the Lutheran, the Old Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Church of Ireland. The date of St Patrick’s death, the 17th of March, is the one time of the year when Irish people all over the world honor his memory. In addition, the day is also a celebration of the culture and history of Ireland, so in this article, we are going to tell you more about the root of the tradition.
Today the celebrations won’t take place but let’s not get sad for there‘s always next year. In order to enjoy some peace and quiet on this holiday, don't bother dealing with house chores. Our cleaning team can make your residence nice and tidy any time of the year and that includes St Patrick's Day. Just contact our staff to get a quote and we are going to arrange a thorough cleaning session to make your place spotless.
Despite being declared the Apostle of Ireland, the actual birthplace of St Patrick was Roman England. People don't know the exact location, but some believe it was somewhere in Wales or Scotland. Although he grew up to become a Saint, he went through a lot of trouble to find faith. Unlike his father and his grandfather before him, Patrick did not believe in Christianity when he was young. Life however took an unexpected turn for the boy when he was sixteen years old.
At that time he was captured and taken by pirates to Ireland. Once he was brought to the foreign land, Patrick was sold into slavery to work as a shepherd. In his loneliness and captivity, when all hope seemed lost, he reached out to God by praying. As the Lord gave him the strength to survive, Patrick found faith in Christianity and accepted the religion. After six years of captivity, the boy heard a voice saying he could get back home soon as there was a ship waiting for him. Having faith these were the words of the Lord, Patrick ran away from his master and travelled over 200 miles by foot. On the run, he managed to reach a harbor where a ship was preparing to sail off to Britain. Several months later, the boy was finally home with this family.
Sign of The Shamrock
As a devoted believer, Patrick spent many years studying Christianity in Europe to become a priest. He thought the Lord had plans for him and that proved to be true. One day a vision told Patrick he must travel back to Ireland and baptize the local community. Back then the country was divided into many tribes, each with a religion and beliefs of its own, so peace and understanding among them were impossible. The priest accepted this mission as he knew that by convincing the Irish to convert to Christianity, all of them will be united by one faith.
When Patrick went to Ireland, the locals tried to drive him away. Instead of going back, the saint decided to stay on a small island near the country. Nowadays, this territory has been named after the apostle. From there the saint tried teaching the values of Christianity but didn't have any success at first in baptizing the Irish citizens. Since too many of the locals were fond of their idols, Patrick came up with the idea to use these beliefs to his advantage. The shamrock, for example, was a popular pagan symbol in Ireland. With the help of this clover the saint managed to explain the meaning of the Holy Trinity to the community. The method proved to be efficient and very soon Patrick began converting people to Christianity.
According to paganism, the shamrock and it's three leafs represented the deities or the forces of the land. Furthermore the clover was said to have mystical powers as a gift from Mother Nature. Showing people a resemblance between the Holy Cross and the shamrock proved vital for the acceptance of Christianity in Ireland. People were not letting go of their beliefs but were accepting a new religion at the same time. That is why some icons depict Saint Patrick holding a cross in one hand and a pack of shamrocks in the other one.
The Color of the Nation
One of the traditions of St Patrick's Day is to wear green items of clothing to pay homage to the Irish. To learn why this color is the symbol of the whole nation, you should hear the legend of Goidel Glas. The story is written in the Lebor Gabala Erenn – a book filled with poems that describe the history of Ireland from the creation of the world all the way to the Middle Ages. According to the texts, Goidel Glas was the man who gave the Gaelic tribes their own languages. (Some of these including Irish, Scottish and Manx are spoken throughout Britain to this very day.)
During one of his journeys, Goidel Glas was bitten by a snake. This accident would have been fatal, if Moses himself didn't come to the rescue. By placing his staff on the wound, he managed to heal Giodel Glas. The snakebite vanished, but a green mark appeared in its place as a reminder of the event. Afterwards, Giodel Glas continued travelling across Britain to educate the Gaels. As his legacy was spread through myths and legends, the color became associated with his name.
Although the story dates back to the 11th century, the Irish started to see green as a symbol of their heritage around the 1640s. Back then the members of a local community were so inspired by the legend of Giodel Glas, that they adapted the color into their own banner. In the following years, men and women from different parts of Ireland began wearing green ribbons and shamrocks on St Patrick's Day. Around the 1790s, the color proved important for the unification of the entire nation against the British rule. As a supporter of the cause, the political organization "United Irishmen", was the first of its kind to acknowledge green as a national symbol. The need to protect the cultural heritage and history of Ireland motivated many to wear the color of Giodel Glas.
A few years later, the followers of the initiative organized the Irish Rebellion of 1798. This attempt for liberation was remembered for the song "Wearing the green" that was sung by the natives who joined forces to oppose Britain. Although the rebels were stopped, the Irish Revival at the end of the 1800s and the start of the 1900s, reminded the locals about the importance of their heritage. National symbols such as language, mythology and literature motivated revolutionaries to rise against the British rule once more. The Irish who fought in the name of their country carried green flags into battle. After the revolution escalated into warfare, everything culminated in the liberation of the country.
Organizing The Parade
St Patrick's Day has been celebrated every year in Ireland since the 9th century. Because of the popularity of the individual and his recognition as a patron of the country, the community named a feast day in his honor. Despite the public opinion, it took centuries until the Catholic Church decided to include the event in the liturgical calendar at the start of the 1600s. This made the 17th of March a holy day of obligation for all religious institutions in Ireland. The date rarely changes with the only exception being the years in which it occurs during the Holy Week.
In 1903 after the signing of the Bank Holiday Act by the UK Parliament, St Patrick's Day became an official holiday in Ireland. According to the regulations written in the document, on this date most forms of businesses and non-essential service providers are obliged to close their stores, buildings and other facilities to the public. During the same year was held the very first St Patrick's Day parade. The event took place in Waterford, where everything was arranged by public organizations and corporations, which stood for the preservation of the Irish heritage.Union members, music bands and authority figures took part in the procession to celebrate with the community.
Perhaps the most memorable St Patrick's Day parade is the one from 1916. Back then, the military organization known as the "Irish Volunteers" was in charge of the event. The members of the institution held 38 different parades with most of the participants being well armed. One month after the event, the organization launched an attack against British rule on the week of Eastern. The rebellious act was the beginning of the revolutionary period for the liberation of Ireland. Therefore in the following years, St Patrick's Day was more associated with political agitations instead of celebrations. The military campaign during that time led to the Irish War of Independence and the Civil War.
Since the 1931 St Patrick's Day celebration in Dublin, the event has been sponsored by the state. That makes the institution responsible for applying restrictions in case of emergencies as well. In the history of Ireland, the annual parade was cancelled only on two occasions. In 2001 the celebration was postponed to May because of the crisis in the British agriculture and tourism. This year as you know the event was completely cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.