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Good Question: Why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

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Ye lads and lasses, top of the morning to you. It’s St. Paddy’s Day. Time to celebrate!

St. Patrick’s Day is, apparently, the day Americans eat corned-beef and cabbage, get drunk, and throw a parade for themselves only to experience a nice hangover the next day.

One percent of all the beer in the world is consumed on St. Patrick’s Day, according to an article I found from Good Earth Plant Company.

“Much of it is Guinness, the dark Irish beer which sells more than any other individual brand on St. Patrick’s Day,” they write. “People drink 5.5 million pints of Guinness on an average day. On St. Patrick’s Day, they will consume 13 million pints of Guinness.”

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I did some digging.

It turns out that drinking and this St. Patrick fellow we’re commemorating have about as much to do with each other as the Easter Bunny does with Easter. Yet somehow, the two have become inextricably linked.

“St. Patrick’s Day becomes a day when a lot of different things having to do with being Irish get lumped together,” Chris Cahill, executive director of the Institute for Irish-American Studies at City University of New York’s Lehman College, told ABC News.

Let me tell you what I learned for this week’s Good Question.

  • St. Patrick’s Day always has been an American holiday. The Washington Post reports there are 34 million Americans in the U.S. with Irish ancestors. Ireland only has 4.6 million people.
  • St. Patrick was Welsh – not Irish.
  • Furthermore, his name is not Patrick. His name is Maewyn Succat. But no one really wants to celebrate a day called St. Maewyn’s Day, so St. Patrick’s day is, apparently, the next logical alternative.

Who was Maewyn Succat?

Succat was brought to Ireland as a slave. While Succat was a slave, his master taught him Christianity. Succat converted, later escaped and went back to his home country of Wales, where he studied in a monastery for many years until he became a bishop.

He then decided to return to Ireland as a missionary and teach Christianity to the Irish natives.

According to legend, he taught the concept of the Trinity using a native Irish plant called a shamrock.

Today, St. Patrick is Ireland’s primary patron saint, according to the Telegraph. He supposedly died on March 17, which is why that day is designated on the calendar as St. Patrick’s Day.

How did St. Patrick’s Day begin in the U.S.?

During the Irish Potato Famine in 1845, many Irish settlers immigrated to America. As is often the case with minority groups in this country, they were treated poorly.

In response to their oppression, they threw a big parade for themselves. They ate corned beef and cabbage, got drunk and had a nice hangover the next day.

Because we Americans are always up for a party, we joined in and adopted it as a yearly festival, reports ABC News.

How did green become the official color of St. Patrick’s Day?

The color for St. Patrick’s Day was originally blue. But green made more sense because green is one of the colors in the Irish flag. Ireland is often referred to as the Emerald Isle for its lush, green landscape.

Thanks to these Irish immigrants, we have a celebration in Chicago every year where the river is dyed green.

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So, on St. Patrick’s Day, we go green.

So why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Your guess is as good as mine. But here’s a four-leaf clover, which is supposed to bring you good luck.


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