About St. Patrick’s Day

St Patrick is known as the patron saint of Ireland. True, he was not a born Irish. But he has become an integral part of the Irish heritage, mostly through his service across Ireland of the 5th century.

Patrick was born in the later half of the 4th century AD. There are differing views about the exact year and place of his birth. According to one school of opinion, he was born about 390 A.D., while the other school says it is about 373 AD. Again, his birth place is said to be in either Scotland or Roman England. His real name was probably Maewyn Succat. Though Patricius was his Roman name, he later came to be known as Patrick.

By the end of the 7th century Patrick had become a legendary figure, and the legends have continued to grow since then. There are many legends associated with St Patrick. It is said that he used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the concept of the Trinity; which refers to the combination of Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Hence, its strong association with his day and name. Legend also has it that Saint Patrick had put the curse of God on venomous snakes in Ireland, driving them all into the sea—where they drowned.

True, these are mostly legends. But, after some 1500 years, these legends have been inseparably combined with the facts. And together they have helped us know much about the Saint and the spirit behind celebration of the day. Patrick’s mission in Ireland lasted for over 20 years. He died on March 17, AD 461. That day has been commemorated as St. Patrick’s Day ever since. The day’s spirit is to celebrate the universal baptization of Ireland. Though originally a Catholic holy day, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into more of a secular holiday. Or, rather, ‘be an Irish Day ‘. And the Irish has borne it as part of their national tradition in everywhere they populated and prospered. The Catholic feast day for this most loved of Irish saints has become a holiday in celebration of the Irish and Irish culture. The leprechaun, a Celtic fairy, leprechaun, a Celtic fairy, has become entrenched as a chief symbol for this holiday, as is the shamrock, an ancient symbol for the triple goddess Brigit. It is fitting that this holiday should fall at the time of the year when the return of spring begins to seem at hand.

 

Holly Collins
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