Splash of green, a touch of gold, and a rainbow is all we Americans wish to see. However, little is known of the origins and the ye olde holiday, “Saint Patrick’s Day.”
First recognized as a Roman Catholic feast to the patron of saint of Ireland in 461, Saint Patrick's Day was “named” after Patrick (birth name: Maewyn), who was not Irish, but was a great part of Irish heritage. Patrick was kidnapped and brought into slavery in Ireland. However, not all hope was gone as he escaped and sought refuge in a monastery in Gaul (France); this is where his conversion and spread of Christianity had begun in Ireland.
After Patrick had succeeded in the conversion of millions of Pagans into Christians, he was finally put to rest on March 17, 461 AD. This was the day that millions of Irish commemorated the righteous Patrick. On this holiday, the Catholic threw lavish celebrations and an extraordinary addition to Irish culture.
Several objects can be recognized due to this holiday, such as leprechauns, the color green, a pot of gold, and shamrocks. These symbols all have different meanings. For example, the shamrock is a symbol of the Trinity: the father, the son and the holy spirit. The Irish see this as a good luck symbol. The leprechaun or “leprechauns” meaning “little people,” are unfriendly, and are known to have a pot of gold. Finally, the color green in known for the plentiful rain and mist that the island receives; Ireland is known as the “Emerald Isle.” This is a form of luck that is flaunted, in order to pay tribute to the green landscape of the country.
Although these are an “added bonus” to the holiday, what really happened was that Ireland went through the infamous potato famine of the 1800’s, and many Irish became famished and started to migrate to the United States. In was the start of the century and and things took a turn for the worse. The potato famine of 1850, all started with the release of a devastating fungus that destroyed Ireland’s potato crop. Starvation and illness ran through the streets of Ireland, approximately one million died. However, 500,000 - 4.7 million Irish emigrated to the United States seeking refuge.
Approximately, there are 11.1- 12.9% of Irish Americans in the United States, since the potato famine. Several people, like Lesley Gaetano, English teacher, are descendants and have personal connections with the holiday because of their Irish bonds. Ms. Gaetano’s great grandparents immigrated from Ireland to America, in order to seek a better life. Ms. Gaetano grew up in the, “north east, so there was a high concentration of Irish Americans.” She was exposed to the Irish traditions and costumes, “such as having corned beef and celebrating the holiday,” she explains. Although it sounds all good to be true, American and Irish traditions are fairly different. “I think that Saint Patrick's Day is more of an American holiday… because it just is celebrated differently than it is in Ireland. Some people use the holiday as an excuse to get drunk, however I do think that it’s relevant because any cultural holiday is made for good intentions,” says Ms. Gaetano.
It is said that not only is the Irish tradition a part of Ireland’s history, but part of the United States. “Historically speaking, Saint Patrick’s Day has always been a day of festivities; it is a day where we, as Americans, can celebrate their contribution to America,” said History teacher,
Mr. Pederson. This builds upon the idea that “working hard will have its rewards.” However, all actions have a negative side to it. For example, it was not easy to get pick up from where you started you needed to. It was a, “big economic challenge for the Irish to come to America because several were poor. On top of that, they had to settle in ghettos in parts of NYC, which made it difficult, ” mentions Mr. Pederson.
Although it was a difficult transition, the Irish have “always been admired,” as stated by Mr. Pederson. They are optimistic people whom are seen with glee as they wear their patriotic colors of white and green with pride. So, next time March 17th comes around, just think of the struggles that several had in order to achieve a better lifestyle, and be thankful for yours.
Editor Board, 2017-2018
Editor in Chief: