Colin Smith Law PLLC - March 2020

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March 2020

The Origin and Tradition of St. Patrick’s Day Knowing the Why Behind the Celebrations

St. Patrick’s Day is the best opportunity of the year to let your Irish colors fly. As someone who is Irish, I feel very connected with this holiday and the traditions it represents. I’m all for dressing up in green, visiting a local bar, and having a drink, but I also think it’s important to remember why we enjoy all these traditions, too. For a while, St. Patrick’s Day was seen as an exclusively religious holiday in Ireland. This was primarily due to St. Patrick himself — the Irish even went as far as to pass a law that ordered pubs to close every year on March 17. It was only 25 years ago that the Irish government realized they were missing a huge social and economic opportunity. Not only could they increase tourism in Ireland around this time, but the holiday could also spread awareness of Irish customs and culture around the world. But even so, many of the traditional celebrations we enjoy so much here in the U.S. did not originate from Ireland: Many of them actually began right here. The first recorded St. Patrick’s Day Parade took place in NewYork in 1762 when Irish soldiers who served the British army marched a few blocks through the city to a tavern. However, this “parade”was more than just a group of friends going to the local pub to have a drink. It helped these soldiers reconnect with their roots and brought other Irishmen—who were far from home — together. Every year since, people came together to march through NewYork and, eventually, that tradition spread to every corner of our country, and many around the world. But why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 of all days?Well, we have to look at the saint himself. March 17, 460 A.D., marks the day when St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, passed away, and every March that follows is meant to celebrate his life and what he did for the people of Ireland. But what many

people might not know was that Patrick wasn’t even originally from Ireland. While experts have debated over time about where exactly he was born, what we do know is that he was born in a village called BannavemTaburniae which, although it no longer exists, was located somewhere in either England, Scotland, or Wales. Patrick first arrived in Ireland through a series of unfortunate events. At 16, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and brought to the country where he was held prisoner for six years. Patrick spent that time working as a shepherd until he was finally able to escape, but that wasn’t the end of his hardships. I can’t imagine how terrifying it would be wandering around a foreign country completely alone and with no idea of where to go. What helped him through it was his faith. Before he was taken, Patrick never really practiced religion and, actually, had very little

interest in it. Going through this experience, however, changed him, and he felt compelled by God to leave Ireland. It’s said that Patrick walked 200 miles to the coast where he boarded a boat and successfully made it back to his home country and family, but he didn’t stay there for good. Years later, Patrick returned to Ireland, where he spent the next 15 years becoming an ordained priest and the next 40 years spreading the Christian faith among the Irish. This year, as we all get together to enjoy the St. Patrick Day celebrations, we can enjoy the holiday more by recognizing the history of this ancient holiday. I wish all of you and yours a very happy St. Patrick’s Day this March. Stay safe and have fun!

-Colin Smith

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