Saint Patrick’s Day: the history of the saint, the meaning of green and the three-leaf clover
The life of this great man was marked by slavery and by a struggle to spread his faith
Many know Saint Patrick as a day of the year, March 17, where drinks, parades and gatherings of friends abound. However: who was it really? Why is he remembered with the color green? What does the 3 leaf clover mean?
Ireland’s patron saint was a bishop and missionary who introduced Christianity and spread it throughout that nation. Born in Britannia, now Great Britain, in 385, the son of a Christian and a deacon, he suffered the looting of his house and was sold into slavery in Ireland.
He lived on the street for six years until he managed to escape and return to his home. Free again, he began his studies to become a priest. And, in the lands where he was enslaved, he became a bishop.
From Britain, Patrick moved to France where he continued to work to generate the Christian faith. But after a vision he moved back to Ireland and got rid of all his property. As the number of faithful was increasing, the Pope decided to appoint a bishop. The person who assumed this role soon passed away and the task fell to Patricio.
He built, together with his community, abbeys and temples. And he fought against the druids and pagans. In his long talks with his faithful is the story of the three-leaf clover.
Patrick used this simple element to explain the divine nature and the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit who come together in an element as simple as a leaf.
St. Patrick’s day
It was immigration that spread the story of Saint Patrick throughout the world. An exodus that was marked by a humanitarian tragedy that occurred at the end of 1845 in Ireland when a plague destroyed all the potato plantations on the island. Families had nothing to eat. Without international help, a million people died and another million emigrated.
The Irish who managed to escape moved mainly to English-speaking countries. The United States was one of the places where they arrived with their hopes set on getting out of poverty and with their traditions and culture on their backs. One of them, the memory and love for Saint Patrick.
It was tradition to decorate and dress in green, as that is the national color of Ireland, and to organize celebrations. The history of green? It is a color that dates back to the Irish rebellion when soldiers dressed in this hue and fought against the reds, who were the British. At that historical moment, blue was associated with the festival of Saint Patrick. But this changed. In 1798 and during this war, Irish soldiers sang “The Wearing of the Green” and made green the characteristic color of their country.
Since colonial times, New York has celebrated this day with its traditional parade on St. Patrick’s Day. An event that, in principle, was generated by the Irish who were part of the British army and which quickly spread to other communities. Today people from different countries and creeds come together to celebrate the history of this great saint.
A curious fact: much closer in time, in 1962, Chicago dyed its river green to celebrate Saint Patrick. And the color jumped into pop culture.
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