Journey to Easter: St. Patrick's Day

2014-03-17T07:30:00Z Journey to Easter: St. Patrick's DayArizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 17, 2014 7:30 am  • 

St. Patrick's Day isn't a stop on the journey to Easter, other than it happens during Lent. With all the hoopla today, we couldn't resist a wee bit o' discussion of St. Patrick’s Day.

After all, it is a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland and died on March 17, 460 A.D. St. Pat's feast day has turned into a celebration of all things Irish. It's a national holiday in Ireland.

The Irish take it to the streets today: More than 100 St. Patrick’s Day parades are held across the United States (Tucson's was held Saturday.) New York City and Boston have the largest celebrations, according to history.com. Chicago even dyes the Chicago River green.

You might think the first St. Patrick’s Day parade would have happened in Ireland — you would be wrong. History.com places the first parade in the United States on March 17, 1762, when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City.

Green beer, Irish foods and green clothes abound today. Those bright green shamrock decorations have religious symbolism — St. Patrick used it to explain the Holy (or Blessed) Trinity.

He used the shamrock as an example of how the three leaves are part of the one plant — much like the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are part of one, singular God. 

A more secular view offered: The first leaf of a clover is for hope, the second for faith, the third for love and the fourth for luck.

Now about those snakes St. Pat drove out of Ireland — more symbolism. First, there are no snakes in Ireland, and there probably never have been because the island separated from the continent sometime at the end of the Ice Age. However, because serpent symbols were common and often worshipped when St. Patrick arrived on the Emerald Isle, driving snakes from Ireland was more of a metaphor for ending the practice or driving away the evils of paganism.

A popular blessing you might hear today:

An Old Irish Blessing

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

and rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

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