The Historical Meaning Behind St. Patrick’s Day

Leprechauns, shamrocks and people wearing green means that it must be St. Patrick’s Day. While many claim the title of Irish on this day, few know the history behind the annual celebration on March 17th.

The day originated to celebrate St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, who was born British but later became an Irish bishop. The holiday was mainly a religious one celebrated by the church to commemorate the death of St. Patrick, which according to Georgia Public Broadcasting, occurred on March 17, 461. Traditionally low key with only feasts and church services, the celebrations eventually gained ground.

As Irish-Americans immigrated to the United States, they brought St. Patrick’s Day celebrations with them. The day then became as much about ethnic identity as it did remembering their patron saint. Celebratory events expanded rapidly to include parades, dying local rivers green and the traditional wearing of the green. For today’s die-hard St. Patrick’s converts, the day isn’t complete until you have corned beef and cabbage washed down by a pint of Guinness, both traditional Irish foods made popular brought over by the immigrants.

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