St. Patrick’s Day: Why it is Celebrated

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Emily Dugsn

St. Patrick’s Day is often associated with four-leaf clovers. However, the holiday should actually be associated with the three-leaf clover instead.

When people think of St. Patrick’s Day, they usually think of leprechauns, pots of gold at the end of rainbows, wearing green, and alcohol. They think of the typical red-head with a fiery temper and a heavy Irish accent. However, people underestimate just how offensive and harmful these stereotypes can be.

St. Patrick’s Day in the United States is seen as a holiday to celebrate the Irish-American culture. Typically, St. Patrick’s Day isn’t even celebrated in Ireland, or at least, the way Americans celebrate it. The holiday was created in honor of St. Patrick, who was one of Ireland’s patron saints. St. Patrick was said to be Welsh, not Irish. However, he was the saint who ministered Christianity in Ireland during the fifth century. March 17, the day of the holiday, is the day St. Patrick died.

The holiday is celebrated in the United States by people of Irish descent and was started by Irish immigrants. Corned beef and cabbage, the typical food that is associated with St, Patrick’s Day, is not actually Irish food. Instead, corned beef was used as a substitute for salt pork and bacon for Irish immigrants. They would eat corned beef because it was the closest to what they would normally eat back in their homeland.

Now for the main quality that Americans tie with St. Patrick’s Day: Why do we wear green? Wearing the color green for the Irish holiday came from the fact that Ireland is referred to as the Emerald Isle. The green stripe in the flag also plays a role. Many also believe that wearing green makes you invisible to leprechauns, which is where the idea of being pinched when not wearing green comes from. 8th grader Jahnai Bolden doesn’t know a lot about the holiday but provides some thoughts on it. “I don’t really care for the holiday. It’s alright, but I just like pinching people when they don’t wear green.” Despite all of these beliefs, the color of St. Patrick is actually blue. However, because of the division between Ireland and Britain, the color blue became tainted for the Irish.

A common misconception about Ireland is that the shamrock is their national symbol. This is completely untrue. While the three-leaf clover is commonly associated with Ireland, it is not for the reason people think. The three-leaf clover in Ireland was used by St. Patrick as a metaphor for the holy trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The actual national symbol for Ireland is the harp. The harp is present on Irish Euro coins, as well as the logo for Guinness, which is considered by many to be Ireland’s national drink.

Bolden also mentions some things that they think are associated with St. Patrick’s Day. “People associate this holiday with beer, green and bead necklaces.” Despite what people think, however, St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t a drinking holiday for the Irish. All pubs were actually closed in observance of the religious feast day.

So rather than spending the entire day drinking and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day for unknown reasons, people can responsibly celebrate the Irish holiday and respect the culture and idea behind it. The misconceptions about the holiday are world-wide and have gotten the holiday a lot of negative attention, but with the right amount of publicity, the holiday’s actual intentions might become a little more well known.