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History Behind St. Patrick’s Day

In the words of The Dubliners, let’s all go “down the rocky road all the way to Dublin!” St. Patrick’s Day is finally here, and the madness to turn everything green is bringing out the inner Irish in all of us with much fervor and enthusiasm. Celebrations for this festive holiday are going to be taking place all across the country, and although St. Patrick’s Day has become a day to get as drunk as one can be, it was not originally intended to be that way.

The real Saint Patrick was born in Roman Britain during the fifth century because as we all know, the Romans had expanded their empire throughout half the globe that included Britain. Although much is not known of the real Saint Patrick, historians have discovered a few details about this important figure in Irish culture. For one, he was captured as a young teenager and sent to be a slave in Ireland. He later escaped, or was released, but returned to convert the people of Ireland to Christianity when he became a priest.

Saint Patrick later died on March 17, hence the importance of the day, and 12 centuries later, the church established a feast day honoring the saint. Since the day was established as a religious holiday, it was thanks to the nobility that changed all of that. During the 17th century, the nobility took the opportunity to celebrate an elaborate feast day before Lent arrived. And it was later thanks to the Irish emigrants in the United States during the 18th century that created the St. Patrick’s Day we have all come to love.

In 1762, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in New York City, and as Daniel Day Lewis said in Gangs of New York, “This is a night for Americans!” As the years went by, the color green was used to commemorate Irish pride, and the lucky four leaf shamrock began to make its appearance as a part of the festivities. What was once a religious holiday is now made to celebrate all things Irish and that, of course, includes green beer. 

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