Is It a Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2023?

The Irish holiday St. Patrick’s Day is Friday, March 17. When someone says St. Patrick’s Day, there are common things that pop up in your head: shamrocks, leprechauns, the colour green, heavy accents, gold coins under a rainbow, but there is much more to St. Patrick’s Day than these stereotypical Irish things.

This holiday has been celebrated for over one thousand years and has been spread to many different countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia. But where did it all start? Well, depending on who you ask, there are many different answers. The legend goes that St. Patrick, a beloved patron Saint of Ireland, drove all the snakes out of Ireland. But research is starting to show that there might be more to this story than what was originally told. People are starting to think this because there are no signs of snakes ever having been in Ireland because there have never been any fossils of snakes found anywhere in the country. Instead, serpents are thought to be used as a metaphor for druids and pagans. These natives of the emerald island practised an ancient religion with their own sets of beliefs and traditions, generally based on the natural world and its processes, but these were not viewed as appropriate from the perspective of the Christian Church, so they sent over St. Patrick to convert as many people as they could to Christianity. There are many myths that explain the conflicts between St. Patrick and the druid priests. Critics of St. Patrick and the Christian church believe that St. Patrick was the cause of many pagan murders, but there is little evidence showing that these stories are correct, although there are apparently confessions from St. Patrick himself that he burnt nearly 150 druid books. So, like I said at the beginning, St. Patrick’s Day isn’t all rainbows and sparkles.

How is St. Patrick’s Day celebrated around the world?
St. Patrick’s Day has been spread all around the world and is celebrated differently depending on the country. In Ireland, celebrations include parades, festivals, céilithe, which in its simplest form is a social gathering, and the wearing of shamrocks or green. In the United Kingdom, they celebrate by going to Irish pubs. In the United States, they celebrate it
similarly to Ireland, with parades. But in Chicago, they have a famous tradition of dyeing the river green in honour of St. Patrick’s Day, and they have a huge Irish community due to the Great Potato Famine in the mid 19th century. In Switzerland, it is not as largely celebrated, but it is common for Swiss students to organise celebrations in their own homes on St. Patrick’s Eve.

Overall, St. Patrick’s Day is a jolly celebration for many people. But it is important to recognise the historical roots of this fun holiday.

Caitlín Daly, year 7

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