St. Patrick’s Day

One of the most important holidays during spring is St. Patrick’s Day. But why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Learn all about the history of St. Patrick’s Day here so you can share this special story with your children!

The History of St. Patrick’s Day

Originally a religious holiday held in honor of St. Patrick, the saint credited with introducing Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century and the country’s patron saint, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved to encompass the celebration of all things Irish.

St. Patrick (or Maewyn, his Welsh name) was born in Britain under Roman rule to a wealthy Welsh family. When he was sixteen years old, his family estate was attacked and he was sold into slavery. For many years he lived a solitary life as a shepherd and finally overcame his life of hardship and regained his freedom by committing his life to preaching the word of God. The feast day of March 17 commemorates the death of St. Patrick in 461 CE.

In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day has long been a religious feast associated with the season of Lent during which it occurs. As such, orthodox Christians traditionally fasted on this day.

The first parade held in honor of St. Patrick was held on March 17, 1762 in New York City. This parade featured Irish soldiers who served in the English military. The St. Patrick Day parade soon became a cornerstone of Irish-American culture. In 1948, President Truman attended the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, a moment that signaled the triumph of Irish-Americans over the stereotypes and prejudices that their ancestors had experienced. In 1995, March was proclaimed Irish-American Heritage Month.

Some famous symbols associated with St. Patrick’s Day include the shamrock, which St. Patrick is believed to have used to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish people, and which is associated with good luck. Leprechauns, traditionally considered malevolent creatures, became associated in modern usage with good luck, specifically, a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

How to Get the Kids Involved

Taking your kids to a St. Patrick’s Day parade is a great way to introduce them to the spirit of the feast day.

Another way in which to involve your kids in the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations is to create shamrock-shaped cards using green construction paper. Decorate your homemade St. Patrick’s Day cards with sparkles, sequence and tissue paper. You can also draw little leprechauns to decorate your cards.

Looking for a tasty St. Patrick’s Day treat to make with the kids? Why not try sugar cookies cut with shamrock-shaped cookie cutters or creating St. Patrick’s Day ice cream by sprinkling green food coloring on vanilla ice cream.