Instead of ransacking my closet and dresser drawers, searching for something green to wear on St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to do some research. What is St. Patrick’s Day, and why all the fuss about wearing green?
Let’s discuss answers to the questions:
- Who is St. Patrick?
- What is the fuss about wearing green?
- What is the significance of the shamrock?
- Why should grandparents know the history behind St. Patrick’s Day?
Here is what I found:
Who is St. Patrick? (This will interest the history buffs among us.)
St. Patrick’s biography appears like a rich tapestry woven with fact and fiction. He was born during the 4th century with the given name, Maewyn Succat. His birthplace was either Scotland or Wales, where his father served as an officer in the Roman-British army and a deacon of the church. Patrick rebelled against his father’s faith.
Patrick was kidnapped by Irish pirates when he was sixteen. He was transported to Northern Ireland and forced into slave labor, herding sheep and pigs on Mount Sleshim. He believed his kidnapping was a punishment for his rebellion and lack of faith. Desperate and unable to save himself, he turned to God in prayer and discovered freedom amidst his slavery.
One night, he had a vision, which mapped out his escape on a boat bound for Britain. Believing his vision was heaven-sent, he followed the instructions. He returned home after being imprisoned for six years, a changed man.
Time passed. One night, Patrick experienced another vision. This time he heard the Irish people calling him back to their island to teach them about salvation through Jesus Christ. He didn’t feel qualified to be a missionary, so he entered a monastery. Years later, he received the Pope’s blessing and returned to Ireland as a bishop.
History suggests that, while the Roman Empire disintegrated into the Dark Ages, Patrick was busy at work. He consecrated a thousand priests and three hundred bishops. Many of those whom he baptized and consecrated carried the torch of Christ to the Anglo Saxons in Europe.
What is the fuss about wearing green?
We commemorate St. Patrick’s Day by wearing green for three reasons:
- Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle, because forty shades of green vegetation are showcased on its rolling hills and valleys.
- The unofficial yet most recognized emblem of Ireland is the shamrock, a green clover-like plant that has three-lobed leaves and grows close to the ground.
- According to Legend, Patrick used a shamrock to teach the inhabitants of Ireland about the Triune God.
What is the significance of the shamrock?
A shamrock is a young sprig of clover that is made of three leaves. During the 4th century, the Celts inhabited Ireland. The priests, namely the Druids, believed that the number three symbolized totality or completeness and thereby held mystical power.
Patrick used a shamrock as a metaphor for the Trinity. He explained that the mystery surrounding the number three wasn’t about past, present and future, or sky, earth and underground, as the Druids supposed, but about the triune God: The Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Unfortunately, many Christians have a limited knowledge about God’s Spirit. Whenever I have the joy of teaching about the Holy Spirit’s role in our prayer life, I am quick to point out that the Spirit is not an “it.” He is the Third Person of the Trinity.
Jesus spoke about the Holy Spirit numerous times during the Last Supper. Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as the Helper and the Spirit of Truth. He said, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you” (John 16:7).
If we look at I Corinthians, chapters twelve and thirteen, we read that the Holy Spirit manifests gifts within us and transforms our hearts, so we can minister to people who are hungry to know that God loves them. The Holy Spirit ministers to us so we are equipped to minister to a broken world.
Whether or not we donned something green on March 17, the Holy Spirit is our Advantage, transforming our hearts, so we can work together as the Body of Christ to edify the larger Body of Christ, all to the glory of God.
Why should grandparents know about the history of St. Patrick’s Day?
Chances are, if your grandchildren are old enough to ride a bike without training wheels, they are going to look for something green to wear on March 17th. Maybe it’s time we ask them if they know the reason behind this tradition. Now that we know the history, we can share the story. After all, whether we believe the legends or not, Patrick’s biography teaches children and adults about listening to God and being obedient to his call.
So, why do you wear green?
For more information about Saint Patrick, please enjoy this video…