A little review about St. Patrick himself is in order. His birth name was Maewyn Succat, and he was born not in Ireland, but in Roman Britain near Dumbarton, in
Though born to a deacon father, he was not a particularly religious lad. His years spent in Ireland in solitude as a shepherd brought him closer to God and he converted to Christianity. It was a vision that prompted Maewyn to flee to a ship that would take him back to his home in Britain.
A second vision came to him as an angel in a dream: to return to Ireland as a missionary. He would study for fifteen years before returning as an ordained priest with the Christian name Patrick, to minister as bishop to the Christians and convert the Irish.
He died March 17, 461 AD, and centuries later was honored as a patron saint of Ireland.
The legend of St. Patrick's Day has its roots in Ireland, of course, but today's celebration, as we know it, took root in colonial America. Tradition has it that St. Patrick used the three-leaf clover to teach the Holy Trinity and wore the shamrocks on his robe.
The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place in Boston, 1737, and was organized by the Charitable Irish Society. New York City hosted its first St. Patrick's Day parade in 1762 and the Fifth Avenue parade is now the most famous and largest.
And Corned beef and cabbage? Not so Irish. The Brits had long prepared tough cuts of beef by curing it with a brine of corns (or grains) of salt. Though the Irish had a traditional dish of boiled bacon and cabbage, upon immigrating to the colonies, they readily took to the corned beef. Here's an authentic way to prepare corned beef from Colonial Table that looks delicious!
My favorite Irish tradition is in the form of this blessing. The author is unknown, but some attribute it to St. Patrick:
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.