St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17, the saint’s religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 years. On St. Patrick’s Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink and feast–on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.
Originally, the colour associated with Saint Patrick was blue. Over the years the color green and its association with Saint Patrick’s day grew. Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St Patrick’s Day as early as the 17th century. Saint Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish, and the wearing and display of shamrocks and shamrock-inspired designs have become a tradition. In the 1798 rebellion, to make a political statement, Irish soldiers wore full green uniforms on 17 March in hopes of catching public attention. The phrase “the wearing of the green”, meaning to wear a shamrock on one’s clothing, derives from a song of the same name.
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.
Traditional Irish Blessing
May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, The rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
May God be with you and bless you; May you see your children’s children. May you be poor in misfortune, Rich in blessings, May you know nothing but happiness From this day forward.
May the road rise to meet you May the wind be always at your back May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home And may the hand of a friend always be near.
May green be the grass you walk on, May blue be the skies above you, May pure be the joys that surround you, May true be the hearts that love you.