Tuesday, March 15, 2011

From Green and Gold to Snakes and Shamrocks

The story behind St. Patrick’s Day and some of its major celebrations

St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is credited for bringing Christianity to Ireland and gained his notoriety by driving the snakes from the island. Although the likelihood of snakes being on the island to begin with is slim to none, this story is believed to also represent the saint putting an end to Paganism in Ireland as serpents were a common Pagan symbol and often worshipped in practice. St. Patrick is also credited for crowning the Shamrock as the National flower of Ireland, using it to explain the Holy Trinity to the Pagans. It is widely accepted that St. Patrick passed away on March 17, 461 AD, giving the Irish a day for spiritual renewal and prayers.

While the history behind St. Patrick’s Day is unsettled, one thing we do know for sure is that this unique holiday gives millions of people around the world a reason to celebrate come March 17th. The biggest of these celebrations occurs in none other than the capital of Ireland itself, Dublin. The city plays host to a five day festival where upwards of 1,000,000 people flock to commemorate the saint with art, outdoor concerts, fireworks and drinking (of course!). Arguably the next largest celebration takes place in Chicago, Illinois where an extravagant parade and festival follows the world famous dyeing of the Chicago River. Several other American cities are known for their enthusiastic St. Patrick’s Day rituals including: Boston, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, New York City, St. Louis and Savannah, GA.

Now you can go out confidently this Thursday, adorned in green, and celebrate with a Guinness and good friends!

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