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Front Page » March 17, 2005 » Holiday Focus » Celebrating the Green
Published 3,541 days ago

Celebrating the Green


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate community editor

Price has a parade each year around St. Patricks Day. This year the parade will take place on March 19.

Each year people get together and celebrate St. Patricks Day. Of that day, everyone seems to be Irish.

But where did the holiday come from? What were its beginnings?

St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity's most widely known figures. What is known about him comes from his two works, the Confessio, a spiritual autobiography, and his Epistle, a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish Christians.

It is known that St. Patrick was born in Britain to well to do parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D.

There are several accounts of Saint Patrick's death. One says that Patrick died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, on March 17, 460 A.D. His jawbone was preserved in a silver shrine and was often requested in times of childbirth, epileptic fits, and as a preservative against the "evil eye."

Another account says that St. Patrick ended his days at Glastonbury, England and was buried there. The Chapel of St. Patrick still exists as part of Glastonbury Abbey.

Today, many Catholic sites of worship all around the world are named after St. Patrick, including cathedrals in New York and Dublin city

It doesn't appear that St. Patrick came from a particularly religious family, but his father was a deacon.

At the age of 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family's estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent many years in captivity.

All kinds of vehicles and drivers appear in the annual parade.

During this time, he worked as a shepherd He turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. It is said that during this time he also began to come up with the idea of transforming the Irish people into Christians. He was there for about a half dozen years before he escaped.

Before the escape he claimed to have had a vision about his destiny to transform the country. After escaping to Britain, he said he had another vision as well when an angel in a dream told him to return to Ireland as a missionary.

It wasn't long after that when Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than a dozen years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission�to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish. Bonfires and Crosses

Because of his years of captivity he was familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick used this information to his advantage by getting people to incorporate their past Pagan beliefs with the newer Christian ones. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire.

He also put a sun symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross. Because the sun was held in such high regard by the people, it was easily accepted.

The folk tales that have grown up around St. Patrick go back to the Irish tradition of oral history and stories. Pagans ruled the island for a very long time and that is how much of their legacy was carried on. Stories about St. Patrick follow that tradition. Those histories and tales have grown over the years into the celebration of what he did.

Saint Patrick's Day has come to be associated with everything Irish: anything green and gold, shamrocks and luck. Most importantly, to those who celebrate its intended meaning, St. Patrick's Day is a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide.

Obviously the day the celebration is held, March 17, doesn't denote his birthday, but instead the day he died. Since the holiday began in Ireland, it is believed that as the Irish spread out around the world, they took with them their history and celebrations.

Of all the celebrations however, the one in Ireland is still the largest. With the exception of restaurants and pubs, almost all businesses close on March 17. The day is not only a national holiday, but also a religious one where many people attend church before beginning their celebrations.

Most American celebrations have taken it beyond the religious overtones. People celebrate by wearing green, having parades and parties.

And what better way to celebrate the coming spring than to use green as the color of happiness for the day.


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