It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day; time to wear green, eat corned beef and cabbage, and drink beer. At least, that’s how St. Paddy’s Day is celebrated nowadays. We realized, however, that we had no idea WHY we celebrate this patron saint of Ireland. Did you know Patrick was a slave, or that green wasn’t originally the color associated with the holiday? In this episode of Flash Past, we talk about these things and a lot more.
Not actually from Ireland, Patrick was born in England in the late 4th century. When he was 16, he was captured by Irish raiders and brought to Ireland, where he spent the next 6 years a slave. It was during this time that he began to rely heavily on faith to get through fear and isolation.
He created the Celtic cross
Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. The Irish already considered the sun to be a powerful, spiritual symbol. For this reason, the sun was added to the Christian cross to create the Celtic cross.
Patrick used the shamrock to teach
As a teaching aid, Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to represent the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Springtime and shamrocks represented new life and rebirth, much the way, Patrick might say, conversion to Christianity gave new life to Ireland.