by Kareena Maxwell
Green beer? Shamrocks and the intrigue of finding a three-leaf clover? St. Patrick who has been celebrated in parades every March 17th, (the date he died in 461 A.D.), is an American and an international tradition in many countries. The first parade was in America in New York City in 1762 and by the mid 1800’s Fifth Avenue was the place to be for St. Patrick’s Day. The writings by others have revealed some common threads of history about St. Patrick’s life and reputation. For one, that he was originally from a wealthy family in England and taken as a slave and kept in Ireland for 16-years until he escaped. “Patrick was a nobleman born in about 370 A.D. in Britain and kidnapped by Irish pirates at the age of 16, said Philip Freeman, author of St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography,” is noted by First Coast News.
Cities like New York City love parades. It brings out the celebratory nature and the comradery that busy people miss in their daily lives as they rush to their next goal. So a parade forces the locals to slow up a bit, gnarl at the traffic at intersections, and to fill the bars with St. Patrick’s Day revelers who think they know who he was. Being of English heritage and Irish influence is just part of his importance. He brought ritual of what he knew about Christianity to the Irish. This was a wise and peaceful man. Instead of fighting and trying to destroy a system of beliefs he, “Used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish,” according to “Who was St. Patrick?” on the History Channel.
At that time in Ireland the Christians were few and many practiced Paganism a belief that has its roots in nature. The Irish culture is known to center its traditions on stories and wonderful myths. All in all, telling tales, sharing dreams and even visions of angelic visits was probably what happened. “When this is considered, it is no surprise that the story of Patrick’s life became exaggerated over the centuries—spinning exciting tales to remember history has always been a part of the Irish way of life.”
The research, or the myth of St. Patrick is pretty much the same. He wasn’t from Ireland but was enslaved there for six-years as a sheep herder. He had two significant dreams in his life. One was to return to England. The second one was when an angel appeared and told him to return to Ireland as a missionary for the Christian faith.
Adrian Hado in his blog article, “The Psychology of a Holiday,” shares the following: “Dr. Linda Papdopoulos, psychologist, says that holidays are absolutely vital to our psychological and even physiological wellbeing – and that there’s a good reason that holidays are inbuilt into every single culture in the world.
“We need to remember that we are human beings, not human doings”, she comments. “We need time to relax, to unwind, to get out of a routine. While people are creatures of routine, they need a period of time where there aren’t any ‘shoulds’, or ‘have-tos’ or ‘musts.’ People that take regular breaks and time out to spend with their partners, or children, are likely to have better self-care skills – to eat better, to sleep better.”
According to various sources, St. Patrick was a sweet guy who went with the flow when he was captured and held in a different world from what he knew as a teenager. It is believed by many that he was placed in Mount Slemish in County Antrim. “He worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. (It is also believed that Patrick first began to dream of converting the Irish people to Christianity during his captivity.)”
It is known that St. Patrick was born in England to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. “Although his father was a Christian deacon, it has been suggested that he probably took on the role because of tax incentives and there is no evidence that Patrick came from a particularly religious family. Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family’s estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity.” Eventually, he was able to escape and, “According to his writing, a voice—which he believed to be God’s—spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland.”
He walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo, to the Irish coast. After escaping to Britain, it was believed that he had another vision in which an angel in a dream told him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Soon after, “Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than 15 years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission: to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish.”
In the St. Patrick’s Confession he wrote, “My name is Patrick…I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers. I am looked down upon by many.”
Traditions and stories are many about this man who lives on in legend and if his message holds true it would most likely be that we can be with different belief systems, religious or otherwise, and still get along.
So, if we look at the St. Patrick’s day symbols of the color green, and shamrocks, (that he used to remind his followers about the holy cross), his legend has continued worldwide to encourage us to think about a gentle approach to discussions about differences in religion and, at minimal good conversations at the local pub about life, humility, and service to others.
Kareena Maxwell is an eight-time award winning author and a journalist with a poet’s heart. She is the author of seven books including “The Granny chronicles: Learning to Speak Leopard,” ”Meth Moon: To Hell & Back,” “Finding Juanito,” and “The God of My Shoes.”, and three other novels. She moved to the White Mountains 4 years ago from New York City with her husband where she lives in a World War ll-style Quonset hut. Her books are available on Amazon.com. firstname.lastname@example.org.