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March 2020                                                      Viewpointe, Page 9

      Saint Patrick’s Day

       Who Was Saint Patrick?                            century into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father      Saint Patrick’s Day is generally
                                                         was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the   characterized by the
       By Arlene Rodman                                  Christian church. At the age of 16, he was kidnapped by   attendance of church
                                                         Irish raiders and taken to the east coast of Ireland but the   services, wearing of
          Saint  Patrick’s  Day,  or                     exact location is unknown.                        green attire, public
       Feast  of  Saint  Patrick,  is                       According to his confession, he was told by God in a   parades and processions,
       a cultural and religious                          dream to flee from captivity to the coast, where he would   and the lifting of
       holiday celebrated on March                       board a ship and return to Britain. Upon returning, he   Lenten restriction on
       17th,  the  anniversary  of                       quickly joined the Church of Auxerre in Gaul and studied   eating and drinking
       his  death.  Saint  Patrick                       to become a priest. In 432, he again said that he was called   alcohol, which is often
       (c.AD 385-461) is the most                        back to Ireland, though as a bishop, to Christianize the   prescribed during the rest of the season.
       commonly recognized of                            Irish from their native polytheism.                  The day is a holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern
       the patron saints of Ireland,                        After nearly thirty years of evangelism, he died on   Ireland, Newfoundland, Labrador and Montserrat. It is
       associated with the arrival of                    March 17, 461, and was buried at Downpatrick. Although   widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora around the world
       Christianity in Ireland.                          there were other more successful missions to Ireland from   such as Britain, Canada, The United States, Argentina,
          Little  is  known  of  Saint  Patrick’s  early  life.  But  it   Rome, Patrick endured as the principal champion of Irish   Australia, and New Zealand.
       is known that he was born in Roman-Britain in the 4th   Christianity and is held in high esteem in the Irish Church.     Originally  the  color  associated  with  Saint  Patrick
                                                                                                           was blue. Over the years, for an unknown reason, the
                                                                                                           color green became associated with Saint Patrick. Green
                                                                                                           ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of Saint
                                                                                                           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. The wearing
                                                                                                           and display of Shamrock-inspired designs have become
                                                                                                           a ubiquitous feature of the day.
                                                                                                              In 1903, Saint Patrick’s Day became an official public
                                                                                                           holiday  in  Ireland. This  was  due  to  the  Bank  Holiday
                                                                                                           Act of 1903, by the United Kingdom Parliament. Saint
                                                                                                           Patrick’s Day was first held in Dublin in 1931 and was
                                                                                                           reviewed by the then Minister of Defense Desmond
                                                                                                           Fitzgerald. Although secular celebrations now exist, the
                                                                                                           holiday  remains  a  religious  observance  in  Ireland,  for
                                                                                                           both Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England.
                                                                                                              In the mid-1990s the government of the Republic of
                                                                                                           Ireland began a campaign to use Saint Patrick’s Day to
                                                                                                           showcase their culture and began with a festival to the
                                                                                                           world. The first festival was held on March 17, 1996. In
                                                                                                           1997, it became a three-day event and by 2009 it was a
                                                                                                           5-day event.
                                                                                                              Saint  Patrick’s  Day,  although  not  a  legal  holiday
                                                                                                           in the United States, is nevertheless widely celebrated
                                                                                                           throughout the country, as a celebration of Irish American
                                                                                                           culture, with parades and floats, mostly in Boston and
                                                                                                           New York.
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                                                                                                             Arlene Rodman is a freelance writer in Boca Raton.

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