Mar 17, 2010

Why We Need St. Patrick

'Tis a grand day, to be sure. Are you wearing green? Are you going to a parade, or have you already been? Have you had your green beer, green frosted cupcakes, soda bread, Irish stew, corned beef and cabbage?
©Cindy Thomson

Fine then. Let's talk about this celebration a moment. Why is it important? (And let there be no mistake, it's important, especially for those of Irish decent and for Christians.)

St. Patrick's Day is a national holiday in Ireland. People used to attend church on the patron saint's feast day, and that's about it. Pubs were closed on that day until the 1970's. As I mentioned in my last post, it became a day of national pride as the shamrock was banned by the English government. Wearing your shamrock was one way to demonstrate this pride (or rebellion if you looked at it from the English side.)

It's important to note that both Catholics and Protestants honor St. Patrick. He is the patron saint of all, and, as Tim Campbell of the Saint Patrick Centre likes to point out, he
photo via creative commons by DonkeyHotey
was cross-cultural. Patrick was from Roman Britain, not Ireland, and he came to Ireland after having been enslaved there, to reach out to the Irish. So whether you're Catholic or Protestant, English or Irish, St. Patrick belongs to you. During a time when these groups shared little in common but hate and distrust, they've always held Patrick in common. Just as he reached across the Irish Sea over a thousand years ago, we can reach out to each other in the same spirit today to celebrate a common Christian heritage.

Patrick himself said, “…without regard to danger, I make known God’s gift and the eternal comfort he provides; that I spread God’s name everywhere dutifully and without fear so that after my death I may leave a legacy to so many thousands of people.”

He has left a legacy, not to thousands but millions, maybe billions over the centuries. But it all began with one person and is carried on by individuals.

Why is the day important? Sure there are parades and food and music, but what this celebration does is bring attention to the culture of Ireland. It's been said that there only two types of people: those who are Irish and those who wish they were.

New York City held the first St. Patrick's Day parade on March 17, 1762. As Irish immigration in this country increased, the Irish in America formed aide societies such as the Hibernians and Sons of St. Patrick. These Irish-American groups helped preserve Irish heritage, and the parades were (and are) a big part of that. In 1848 all these groups consolidated to form the New York City St. Patrick's Day parade, which now has approximately 150,000 participants and 1.5 million spectators! The parade even has a mission statement:

There are parades all over the country. I don't care to count them all, but this web site lists them by state.

A rich Christian heritage comes from Ireland and belongs to everyone of the Christian faith. If you know me, you know I have a passion for writing about these ancient Irish Christians. Their stories should never be forgotten, and the essence of how they lived, their relationship with each other and with God, are lessons that we can be inspired by as we seek our own spiritual paths. The celebration of St. Patrick's Day brings all of that to light wherever the holiday is

Musician John Doan. Click on the picture to go to his web site.

So, what does St. Patrick's Day mean to you? How are you celebrating?


  1. Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
    Here's my blessing to you:

  2. Lovely! Everyone, visit the link above to see Ashmodai's painting of St. Patrick!

  3. Have a blessed St. Patrick's Day, Cindy!


  4. Lovely post, Cindy! We celebrated with a feast (yes, we broke the fast temporarily to celebrate St. Patrick and also my hubby's birthday!) and I always spend St. Paddy's Day with my Irish mom, having Irish tea, quiche, etc.. and watching QVC's St. Patrick's Day special =-)

    I love Ireland... her saints, her mystique. Thanks, in part, to St. Patrick, I found the faith of my people...

    May the Lord shine His face upon you!

  5. Thanks, Kathy.

    Amy, what a wonderful way to celebrate. I don't know what they had on QVC but I bet it was good stuff!

  6. Cindy, hope your ST. Pat's day was wonderful! Blessings to you.

    Will you contact me at: I have the winner for your book. Thanks!
    Carole b