Oct 19, 2018 | Updated: 04:34 PM EDT

Meaning and Traditions Behind St. Patrick's Day

Mar 13, 2015 03:15 PM EDT

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With St. Patrick's Day fast approaching, it is necessary to revisit the meaning and traditions behind this ceremonial event. It is a day observed every year on March 17 to bring together the Irish and the Irish at heart. The St. Patrick's Day celebration began as a religious feast, and evolved over the years to become an international festivity celebrating the Irish traditions and culture with dances, parades, incredible recipes, and a whole lot of green.

While most people celebrate this day, only a few know the history behind it. For starters, it should be clarified that St. Patrick's Day has almost nothing to do with the real man, Philip Freeman. So, what is that real story with St. Patrick?

Patrick was named Ireland's patron saint after his death. Despite not being received with much hype in Ireland, bigger celebrations and parades known today were created by Irish emigrants to the United States. These celebrations serve as a way for the Irish people to connect with their roots after moving to America.

Contrary to many people's belief, St. Patrick was not Irish. As a matter of fact, he was English. Having been born in Britain around 350 A.D, odds are that he even lived in Wales!

There is a legend associated with St. Patrick, claiming that he drove the snakes out of Ireland during one of his sermons. Legends are simply legends. According to a National Geographic writer, James Owen, Ireland and other countries like New Zealand, Greenland, Iceland, and Antarctica lack snakes because of their geographical location.

Did you know that the first St. Patrick's Day parade actually began in America? It took place in 1762 and gained popularity in the mid-19th century.

Although this day is meant for the Irish people, it has gained a lot of popularity in America over the years. This could be partly due to the fact that there are more Irish people living in America that there are Irish people living in their country of origin. Statistically, there are 34 million Americans with Irish ancestry as compared to the 4.5 million people who live in Ireland. 

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