The Back Story of St. Patrick’s Holy Day is very interesting.
Fact vs. Legend
“Does the way we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day have something to do with St. Patrick?
Fact: His father’s name is Calpurnius, and his mother’s name is Conchessa. The parents of St. Patrick were Roman citizens. His father, Calpurnius, is from a Roman family of high rank. Calpurnius is a Decurio. He held the office in jurisdiction of Britain where St. Patrick is born.
His mother, Conchessa, is closely related to St. Martin of Tours. Martin decides to join the Catholic Church at the age of ten. His joining the Christians is against his family wishes. Christianity is not the main religion in Rome at the time. It is unclear as to how, exactly, Conchessa was related to Martin. However, since she and Martin are family, then that means that Martin is related to St. Patrick in some way.
Conchessa and Calpurnius did not name their son “St. Patrick”. His real name is Maewyn Succat. The Roman version of his name is Patricius.
What were the parents of Patricius doing in Britain?
Calpurnius held the Official appointment of Decurio.
What does decurio mean? One meaning is that Calpurnius is the man in charge of the local council or senate of the colonia where Patricius is born. This title is honorable, including Military rank.
Calpurnius is the Roman official who is in charge of a Roman colony located in Britain. This means that Patricius is born into an Aristocrat’s very wealthy and powerful family.
Some time between the age of 14-16, Patricius was kidnapped. A group of Irish raiders attacked his family’s estate. The Irish marauders sold Patricius as a slave to an Irish chieftain named Milchu. This took place somewhere around where the county of Antrim, in Ireland, is located today. Patricius’s name is by his owners to an Irish name, Patrick.
Patrick becomes a shepherd. He tends his owner’s sheep until age 20. He manages to escape, and returned to his family. Soon after returning home, he begins studying for the priesthood. The rest is history. He never married, and he never had any children.
The experience changes him, and he feels compelled to return to Ireland and change his name to Patrick. Before his return, he is ordained as a Roman Catholic priest. He made it his mission to convert the unbelieving Irish population to belief in the teaching of Jesus. Accomplishing this is very difficult for him. Being beaten, harassed, and misunderstood by his superiors is one of many of his challenges. After he died on March 17, 461, stories about Patrick have continued to be told. Some true, some hearsay.
What does a three leaf clover have to do with St. Patrick?
St. Patrick uses the three-leafed clover to explain the Christian concept of the Oneness of the God. He teaches that a three leaf clover has one stem, as the source of life. The three leaves growing from a single stem, St. Patrick used it to illustrate the understanding of the belief in One God, and the outgrowth from the one stem are three manifestations, God is Creations father, the son of Mary is the human manifestation of the God, and the third leaf represented the manifestation of the Holy Spirit that after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, was poured out from the God on the Day of Pentecost. A brilliant, simple organic way to help teach the good news. His mission message was received by many of the unbelievers in Ireland.
Today, people celebrating St. Patrick’s Day often wear a shamrock. Botanists consider the trifolium dubium—the wild-growing, three-leaf clover—to be the official shamrock, as it is an annual plant that germinates in the spring. The shamrock is the national flower of Ireland, and the word “shamrock” comes from the Irish word seamróg, meaning “little clover.”
If you are a teacher, a great exercise is having the class go find a four leaf clover. The actual odds of finding one are estimated at 10,000 to 1.
The Holy Day we remember.
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17, the saint’s religious feast day and the anniversary of his death. The Irish have observed this religious holiday for over 1,000 years. Falling during the Christian season of Lent, the day is celebrated in Ireland with worship services in the morning and parties in the afternoon.
When did the modern celebrations have their beginning?
The international modern large celebrations and parades are a relatively new development in Ireland. It wasn’t until after the 1970’s, when the American celebrations of the holiday became popular, that the Irish began to follow suit in an attempt to boost tourism.
Observance of the holiday in the United States began in 1762, when eighteenth-century Irish soldiers fighting with the British in the U.S. Revolutionary War held the first St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City. The soldiers marched through lower Manhattan to celebrate their Irish heritage. Other parades followed, including well-known celebrations in Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago, which boasted vibrant communities of Irish immigrants.
Patrick died on March 17, 461. This means that when we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day today, we are actually celebrating on the day that the man, Maewyn Succat, died. It has become the feast day for this saint.
Since that time, American festivities have evolved into a general celebration of Irish culture. Today in the United States, St. Patrick’s Day is typically celebrated with clothing, accessories and decorations colored green and displaying traditional symbols such as the shamrock; parades; foods such as Irish soda bread, corned beef and cabbage; and Guinness® stout (a brand and style of beer associated with Ireland).