A Brief History of St. Patrick’s Day and Superstition

For many, St. Patrick’s Day is synonymous with frequenting bars, pubs, drinking and partying. Since this Irish holiday falls on a Saturday this year, there is sure to be some hardcore partying throughout the world. However, there is far more to the holiday than just drinking and wearing green. As we approach St. Patrick’s Day 2012, there is a great opportunity for us to take a look at the history of the holiday and superstitions in general.

St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday celebrated on March 17 each year throughout the globe in honor of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The Irish have observed this day for over 1,000 years. While St. Patrick has become one of the most celebrated religious figures in the world, information about him is very limited. A good deal of information about St. Patrick has been manipulated, embellished and even made up by storytellers over the years. Scholars generally have accepted that St. Patrick lived between 432-461 A.D. and worked as a Christian missionary in Ireland. On St. Patrick’s Day, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and dance, drink and feast in the evening.

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Luck And Leprechauns

One of the major symbols that can be witnessed on St. Patrick’s Day are little leprechauns with their pots of gold. These are imaginary creatures that can assume human or animal forms. Leprechauns love music and can lead humans astray with their singing and pipe playing. These small men are unfriendly and pass the time by making shoes for other fairies. A leprechaun wears a green coat, green hat and shoemaker’s apron. Legend has it that if you catch a leprechaun, you can force him to reveal where he hides his treasure. However, if you look away from him for even a split second, he will disappear. The luck of the Irish can be all yours if you spot a leprechaun.

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Superstition

St. Patrick’s Day is clearly a holiday in which superstitions dominate. Superstitions are beliefs or practices for which there appears to be no rational explanation behind them. They have a long history, and many believe that they really began with the rise of religions. To non-religious people, religion itself is a superstition. Nearly all groups of people have held on to irrational beliefs and have completed practices thought to bring about good luck or great health. Even in a world where objective evidence is highly valued,  you would be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t hold on to at least one or two nonscientific beliefs. A writer may have a lucky pen used to produce great work, or an athlete may have a lucky jersey thought to enhance his or her performance. A common superstition on St. Patrick’s Day is that a four leaf clover is good luck.

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Remember to sport something green on St. Patrick’s Day unless you want to get pinched throughout the day. Even in your drunken stupor, be on the watch for Leprechauns and you may just come away with a big pot of gold.

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