Article By: Xiaolin Cai
We have all grown to associate St. Patrick’s day with wearing green clothing, leprechauns, pots of gold, rainbows, and four-leaf clovers. But many of us probably don’t know the history of this holiday. So let’s dive into this little history lesson as we find out a bit more of the history behind this holiday.
St. Patrick’s day is a holiday to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick. Saint Patrick was born in Roman British, and at the age of 16 was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave. He was able to escape but then returned back to Ireland. Saint Patrick was credited with bringing Christianity to his people. March 17th is the feast day of Saint Patrick which is a holy day in Christianity. Since March 17th fell in the middle of Lent, it gave people a reason to celebrate and take a break. Feasts were held in celebration of this day, and now we have parades and the tradition of dying the Chicago River green.
One of the things we associate with St. Patrick’s day is four-leaf clovers. But in the actual history of this holiday, it wasn’t four-leaf clovers. It is the Irish clover known as the shamrock which only has 3 leaves. It is said that Saint Patrick had used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity which is why it has been incorporated into this holiday.
Another thing I’m sure everyone thinks of when they hear St. Patrick’s day is leprechauns and pots of gold. Well, the legend says that a leprechaun is described as a practical joker who is a short, red-headed fairy who looks like a little old man. And they are usually wearing a hat and a green suit. There are a couple of versions of the legend. One says that leprechauns are shoemakers who get paid by fairies for their work. And they collect all their gold coins in a large pot so if you find a leprechaun they’ll tell you it is at the end of a rainbow. But since you can’t find the “end” of a rainbow you’ll never get to the pot of gold. The other saying says that they are mischievous beings who will grant a human 3 wishes if captured by them in exchange for their freedom. But you should never ask for a fourth wish or you’ll lose them all!
We all know that green is one of the first things that come to mind when thinking about St. Patrick’s day, well how did the color green come about. Some people like to say that it is a tradition to wear green because it is tied to folklore that says leprechauns won’t be able to see you if you wear green. If they can’t see you, they won’t be able to pinch you. So wearing green means you won’t get pinched! Another reason is that green was used for the flag in the Great Irish Rebellion so over the years green became a national of pride. Nowadays some people wear green for luck and to honor their Irish heritage.
So there we go, the history behind a couple of aspects of St. Patrick’s day. Now we know the history of St. Patrick’s day.