Throughout the United States, March 17 is celebrated as St. Patrick’s Day. If you don’t wear green, you risk getting pinched. Chicago rivers turn green, New York puts on a huge parade, and all the children set out traps to catch leprechauns. Schools are full of three leaf clover cookies and even the adults keep their eyes out for the gold at the end of the rainbow. Some people eat green food, and others make traditional Irish food to celebrate.
But who are we actually celebrating? Did you ever ask yourself that question?
In England, almost 1500 years back, was born a boy named Maewyn Succat. He grew up with his family, living a tranquil life, until he was kidnapped by Irish pirates at the age of 16.
They took him back to Ireland, where he worked as a shepherd. And, while he was there working, he learned about Christianity.
Later on, at the age of 22 or so, he was able to escape Ireland, returning to England. But not many years passed before he had a dream. In his dream, and angel directed him to return to Ireland and teach the people about Jesus Christ. At this point in time, most of the Irish were pagans, who worshipped nature.
Maewyn studied to become a priest, and as soon as he was able, returned to Ireland to teach them about Christianity. He ended up staying there his entire life! His work converted thousands of people to Christianity. Eventually, his name was changed to Saint Patrick.
There are a variety of legends about him. Some say that he chased all the snakes out of Ireland, for example. Is it true? Who knows?
But what we do know is that, on March 17, about 460 AD, Saint Patrick died, in Ireland. The people of Ireland loved him so much, that they mourned his death on that day every year. And that was the start of Saint Patrick’s Day.