The True Spirit of St. Patrick’s Day
by Rebecca Whitehouse
Irish pride, lucky four leaf clovers, corn beef and cabbage, green attire, and leprechauns with pots o’ gold. These are the stereotypes often associated with Saint Patricks Day, but how accurate are our conceptions of this March 17th holiday? The truth of it is that many of these traditions developed independent of the original holiday.
Let’s start with St. Patrick himself. Contrary to popular belief, he was a British teenager and a member of the Roman Empire taken from home at the young age of sixteen. He was taken by the irish and kept in captivity for six years. There he converted to Christianity and went on to work as a Christian missionary for Ireland. After hundreds of years St. Patrick’s story arose through mythology and legend until he was entitled the Patron Saint of Ireland.
Even still the holiday’s present vigor is a nearly separate entity from St. Patrick’s historical rise to Christianity. Philip Freeman, a professor at Luther College in Iowa, spoke to this grave difference by saying, “St. Patrick’s Day was basically invented in America by Irish-Americans” (Roach). While original Irish tradition consisted of only a small St. Patricks Day feast, American tradition has escalated this holiday to the extravagant celebration we know today. This is evidenced in the practice of St. Patrick’s Day parades, gaudy green bobbles and drunken festivities.
On this St. Patrick’s Day as you celebrate Irish heritage and seek good luck, remember the humble beginnings of the holiday’s origin.
Rebecca Whitehouse is a student in Advanced Placement English Language and Composition