I have had several students ask in the last few days, "Who was St. Patrick and why do we celebrate him?" So I decided to do a little digging for them. Thursday I plan to do my bell ringer for class on St. Patrick and let them know that Saint Patrick is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. St Patrick is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. Most of what is known about him comes from his two works; the Confessio, a spiritual autobiography, and his Epistola, a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish Christians. According to Irish legend it is said that he was born in Britain, around 385AD. His parents Calpurnius and Conchessa, were Roman citizens living in either Scotland or Wales. As a boy of 14 he was captured and taken to Ireland where he spent six years in slavery herding sheep. He returned to Ireland in his 30s as a missionary among the Celtic pagans.
A few even wanted to know why green? why orange? So to help them understand why some people wear orange, I had to explain why people wear green. It all stems back to the fact that St. Patrick's Day is a Roman Catholic holiday that was first celebrated in Ireland starting in 1631. As the name implies, the holiday celebrates St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.
But....what they didn't know.....was that blue was actually the first color associated with the holiday....that is until the Irish Rebellion in 1798. Blue was one of the colors on the ancient Irish flag.....the British wore red.....so the Irish changed to green....think about it....Ireland is called the Emerald Isle....AND there is the clover..... and then there was the song "The Wearing of the Green" was very popular during the rebellion. Now...where does the orange come from....Catholics were associated with the green color.....and Protestants were associated with the orange....this was because of William of Orange....the Protestant king. That is why you will see Protestants wearing orange instead of green on St. Paddy's day. Not many wear the white of the flag....it symbolizes peace between the Catholics and the Protestants. So, I know that is more than you ever wanted to know about this day....but....I am part Irish....and I love the tales and legends. Slán agus beannacht leat slawn ogg-us ban-ocked lyat