June 19, 2024

Historical context of St. Patrick’s day

In the United States, St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday to have fun with friends while dawning green. St. Patrick’s has been commercialized by promoting green food, beverages, and clothing. However, the commercialization of green articles has little to do with the historical figure of the saint. As it turns out, it has taken centuries for the holiday to accrue the elements it currently beholds. 

The March 17 celebration arose in 1631 when the Church established a Feast Day honoring St. Patrick, a Patreon Saint of Ireland who died in the fifth century (Time). 

Marion Casey, a clinical assistant professor of Irish Studies at NYU, states, “We know that he was a Roman citizen because Britain was Roman then, and then he was enslaved and taken to Ireland, where he either escaped or was released,” Casey says. “And then he became a priest and went back to Ireland, where he had a lot of luck converting the Druid culture into Christians” (Time). 

St. Patrick also helped connect the Holy Trinity (father, son, and holy spirit) by utilizing the shamrock’s three leaves, a native Irish clover (History).

Casey states that it wasn’t until 1798, the year of the Irish Rebellion, that the color green became officially associated with St. Patrick’s Day (Times).