March 17 is St Patrick’s Day, an important holiday for Irish people. Here we take a look at the origins of the holiday.
St Patrick’s Day is the day when Irish people – and other revelers – dress in green and celebrate Irish culture. But even if the day has light-hearted signs, the holiday has a history over a thousand years old, which begins in 4th century Ireland.
A mythical saint
Saint Patrick lived in the fourth century and is the national saint of Ireland. There are a number of legends about Saint Patrick’s life, perhaps the most famous being that he explained the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – using a shamrock.
Another legend is that he chased all the snakes out of Ireland – which cannot be true as there were never any snakes in Ireland to begin with. Some believe that the legend is actually about how Saint Patrick “chased away evil” in the country by Christianizing the population. Snakes, as you know, represent evil in Christianity.
From Brazil to Egypt
The fact that St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated precisely on March 17 is because the saint is believed to have died on this day in the year 461. The Irish have observed the day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years and even though it fell during Lent, they used to make an exception on this day by eating good, dance and have a party.
Today, the day is celebrated in many places around the world through, among other things, parades and events. Over the years, several historical buildings and monuments have been illuminated in green in honor of the day, including the Christ statue in Rio de Janeiro and the Pyramids of Giza.
Sources: History, BBC, National Geographic