What Purpose Does St. Patrick’s Day Serve?

Most people, when they hear about the holiday St. Patrick’s day, think of four-leaf clovers, Irish pubs, and leprechauns. However, it seems as though there is more to the holiday than pinching your friend for not wearing green on March 17.

As the name implies, St. Patrick’s day is named after bishop St. Patrick. It is celebrated by Irish people for the introduction of Christianity into Ireland by Saint Patrick, which technically makes it a religious holiday. As a young adult, St. Patrick was captured from Roman Britain and taken to Ireland where he worked as a slave. He eventually returned to Rome and joined the church. He then returned to Ireland as a missionary, and popular Irish legend states that St. Patrick removed all the snakes from Ireland in the fifth century, even though scientific evidence shows that snakes have not been in Ireland in over 10,000 years.

Nowadays, many Americans, Canadians and Australians associate the holiday with different things.

“[I think of] the color green, alcohol, and Irish stuff,” Zakary Ovens ’20 said.

Many people still associate it with Ireland, as the holiday originated there. However, they associate the holiday with material goods, like beer, festive hats, and green everything. Even McDonalds produces an annual “Shamrock Shake”, which is a mint-flavored green milkshake sold in the U.S., Canada, and Ireland in March.

When asking South students about the holiday, they seem to agree.

“When I hear St. Patrick’s Day, I think of the color green, four-leaf clovers, and Irish people,” Crystal Orozco-Alcantar ‘21 said.

One reason as to why people associate the holiday with the color green and clovers may directly relate back to St. Patrick himself, but even then, the color of St. Patrick used to be dark blue. He is said to have taught Irish pagans of the Christian holy trinity with a three-leaf clover, which explains the transition from dark blue to green.

However, when asked about St. Patrick himself, neither Ovens or Orozco-Alcantar knew who he was or what he was famous for. Many students have heard of a holiday named after St. Patrick, yet few of them actually know who he was.

Unfortunately, minors may be out of luck when it comes to St. Patrick’s day events in Salem, as many of the places that hold special events on St. Patrick’s Day are bars and pubs. However, McMenamins restaurants will have specials on Irish foods like Irish style reubens and stew. If you need to go to Portland to seek out St. Patrick’s Day events, then there is a parade hosted by St. Agatha’s Catholic School, but is primarily intended for the students of that school and the neighborhood families.

Nevertheless, St. Patrick is still widely celebrated in Ireland. In Dublin, festivities start on March 15, and do not stop until March 19. Special events include a 5K run, a parade, and traditional green garments. So, if you really want to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and will go to any extremes to make that happen, then a trip to Dublin may give you the St. Patrick’s day experience you need. Just do not pinch anyone-that’s an American tradition only.

Teacher/Adviser South Salem High School

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