KENTUCKY (3/16/13) – A holiday named after a religious figure that was, ironically, not born in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is an Irish holiday that is celebrated all around the world.
At the age of 16, Saint Patrick was kidnapped by Irish Raiders from his native land and sold into slavery in Ireland. There he worked as a shepherd and turned to religion for his only comfort in sorrow. After six years of slavery, he was able to escape Ireland and fled home to Roman Britain.
While back in his homeland, Patrick had a visionary dream that he was to return to Ireland as a missionary. He began training and planning the conversion of the Irish pagan religion to Christianity.
After his ordination as a priest, he was sent back to Ireland with a duty. With Christians living there already, St. Patrick was able to bring a massive religious shift of Christianity by converting people with power. Familiar with Irish culture and language, he was able to incorporate traditional rituals instead of destroying native Irish beliefs. He was able to lay the ground work for establishing churches and monasteries. It is believed that St. Patrick died in the 5th century on March 17.
In honoring the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland, people from around the world celebrate with festive parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions, firework shows and huge feasts. The first parade for St. Patrick’s Day was held in New York 1762. The Irish soldiers who were serving in the English military marched through the streets of New York with music that reconnected them with their Irish roots. Today, North America is the home of the largest productions of St. Patrick’s Day. In modern day Ireland, about 1 million people take part in the St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin, a multi-day celebration that showcases the Irish culture to the rest of the world.
Photo provided by Amber Mena
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