Basic Facts About St. Patrick's Day

shamrocks

St. Patrick's Day brings to mind smiling Irish eyes, colorful parades and wearing green. Beyond the reverie, St. Patrick's Day is time to acknowledge the life of a special saint to helped spread His word to the Irish.

St. Patrick's Day is commonly known as a time to attend parades, wear green and celebrate the Irish culture. Beyond the festivities, St. Patrick's Day is a cultural and religious holiday that celebrate the most commonly recognized patron saint or Ireland. March 17 is the death date of St. Patrick, who lived from AD 385-461. In the early seventeenth century, St. Patrick's Day was made an official Christian feast day.

The Feast of St. Patrick is observed by the Catholic Church, Lutheran Church, Anglican Communion and Eastern Orthodox Church. St. Patrick's Day falls during the Lenten season but restrictions on eating and drinking are lifted on this day. People can enjoy foods often served on St. Patrick's Day such as ham or corned beef and cabbage, shepherd's pie and green beer as well as Irish coffee and Irish soda bread. Besides being a religious feast day, St. Patrick's Day is also a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland as well as Labrador, Newfoundland and Montserrat.

A great deal of info about St. Patrick comes from a Declaration he is believed to have written himself. He is believed to have been born in Roman Britain to a wealthy family. His grandfather was a priest in the Christian church and his father was a deacon. When he was sixteen, Irish raiders kidnapped him and he was taken as a slave. During the years he worked as a shepherd in Gaelic Ireland, he found God. Patrick was told by Him to flee to the coast and go home on a ship. When he returned home, Patrick became a priest.

Tradition indicates God called Patrick to go back to Ireland. His mission was to convert pagans into Christians. It is rumored he converted thousands of people to Christianity. According to legend, St. Patrick used three-leaved shamrocks to explain the Holy Trinity. The three leaves represented the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Today the shamrock remains one of the popular symbols used to represent St. Patrick's Day. Though he is not officially named a saint. St. Patrick is one of the most well-known "saints" around the globe.

We can all learn from St. Patrick. He used a trying time in his life to discover God and his faith. Then he returned to Ireland, despite the circumstances of his enslavement, to convert Irish pagans into Christians. He managed to convert thousands of people during a time when there was no television, radio or Internet. Imagine how we could harness the power of the Internet and other media to share the Word of God. It is our mission as Christians to share our faith and strive to convert others. As you slip into your green St. Patrick's Day garb, remember to show off your faith for the occasion.

"That is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine." Romans 1:12

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