St. Patty’s Day, Then and Now

With the passing of Valentine’s Day many people may be feeling blue their holiday of bubbly feelings is gone and time marches on. Hopefully they won’t be too sad though, after all didn’t they hear? Green is the new red! Every year on March 17th Irish folk and people from all over the world celebrate St. Patrick’s day with parades, festivals, beer, music, dancing, special foods, and a whole lot of green! It’s a time to kick back with friends and family and a chance to commemorate Irish culture.

Like most commercialized holidays, the true meaning of this day can be overlooked at times in favor of more modernized traditions. And anyone who does question these origins probably look at the name and figure “ oh it’s named after some saint”, and think that’s all there is to it. As in typical fashion for the 20th century, we tend to take things, break them apart, mold them to fit our packaging, and stamp our seal of approval on it. We don’t seek out lore anymore. We feel legends, we don’t hear them, we ablaze traditions, we don’t care about their purpose. Over the years a plethora of St. Patricky influence has swept over into clothing, jewelry, artwork, books, and even the horror genre as crazy as it may seem.

I’m sure there are other examples but what immediately comes to mind for me is the slasher franchise Leprechaun, directed by Mark Jones and released in 1993. Ludacris as it may sound, the film was so successful that the continuity was expanded into a full eight- film series, going from Ireland, to North Dakota, to the farthest reaches of space ( I wish I was joking but I’m not). In some ways St. Patrick’s day has become a caricature of what it once was, and there are many stereotypes about Irish people regarding this holiday. Drunken fools stumbling in the streets, knuckle-brassed brawls, and busty, flirtatious women in bars. That’s the image some people have concocted in their brains. Stereotypical and wrong yes, but there is some truth to it. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car accidents increase on St. Patrick’s Day by as much as 41%. Every year fights break out in pubs and campuses alike.

But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, St. Patrick’s Day is actually a heavily rooted religious holiday thanks to its legacy and the man it’s named after. St. Patrick’s Day was originally celebrated in Ireland with religious services and feasts in honour of St. Patrick, one of Ireland’s patron saints. According to, St. Patrick’s Day is also known as feast day of St. Patrick. Born in Roman Britain in the late 4th century, he was kidnapped at the age of 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave. He escaped but returned about 432 CE to convert the Irish to Christianity By the time of his death on March 17, 461, he had established monasteries, churches, and schools. Many legends grew up around him—for example, that he drove the snakes out of Ireland and used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity.

Despite occurring only once every year, the world of St. Patricks day has become more common than you think. I’m sure everyone reading this knows or has at least seen Lucky the Leprechaun, the mascot of Lucky Charms. Maybe someone you know has searched for a four leaf clover in a field hoping it will bring them good luck. Or perhaps you yourself have looked for the end of a rainbow for the mere chance you might find a pot of gold. Heck, even if your family skips the holiday altogether you might still eat cabbage for dinner that night! St. Patty’s day is a great time if you’re looking for a great time and, as long as you don’t mind a little ruckus over spring break, is a wonderful time to be alive(whether you find a pot of gold or not). Remember, all it takes to get a little luck, is hanging a horseshoe on your door!

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