|Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - Sunday, March 16, 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
St Patrick’s Day Story
Houston County Courier - March 2008
By Crystal Rhone
Every year on March 17, people of Irish heritage, and those who are Irish for the day, all over the world celebrate the feast day of Saint Patrick.
Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated worldwide by Irish people and increasingly by non-Irish people as well.
Celebrations are generally themed around all things Irish and, by association, the color green.
St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity's most widely known figures.
But for all his celebrity, his life remains somewhat of a mystery.
Many of the stories traditionally associated with St. Patrick, including the famous account of his banishing all the snakes from Ireland, are false, the products of hundreds of years of exaggerated storytelling.
It is known that St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century.
He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D. March 17 was his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century.
The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for thousands of years.
The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place not in Ireland, but in the United States.
Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762.
Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers to reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.
Today, people of all backgrounds in the United States, Canada, and Australia celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Although North America is home to the largest productions, St. Patrick's Day has been celebrated in other locations including Japan, Singapore, and Russia. In modern-day Ireland, St. Patrick's Day has traditionally been a religious occasion. In fact, up until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on March 17.
Beginning in 1995, however, the Irish government began a national campaign to use St. Patrick's Day as an opportunity to drive tourism and showcase Ireland to the rest of the world.
In 2007, close to one million people took part in Ireland 's St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin, a multi-day celebration featuring parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions, and fireworks shows.
In fact the first written mention of this story did not appear until nearly a thousand years after Patrick's death.
The shamrock, which was also called the "seamroy" by the Celts, was a sacred plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolized the rebirth of spring.
By the 17th century, the shamrock had become a symbol of emerging Irish nationalism.
As the English began to seize Irish land and make laws against the use of the Irish language and the practice of Catholicism, many Irish began to wear the shamrock as a symbol of their pride in their heritage and their displeasure with English rule.