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Why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Each year on March 17th we scour our closets in frenzy for a green shirt. We may even dig one out of the dirty clothes hamper just to avoid getting pinched! It doesn’t have to be totally green, just have green somewhere in it. If you are like me you’ve tried socks, but they don’t qualify because they are not visible. Hats often work, but you can’t take them off or you’ll get busted. Why do we put ourselves through this each year? Well, of course, there is a good reason. March 17th marks the anniversary of the death of Maewyn Succat’s death. Who is Maewyn Succat? Keep reading and you’ll find out. Maewyn Succat was born in Britain in the fourth century, just a few centuries after the death of Jesus. Christianity was just starting to peak and missions were popping up everywhere. Unfortunately, Maewyn was kidnapped by pagan idol worshippers at 16 years old and sold into slavery. He was forced to become a shepherd in Ireland. While in slavery he had dreams and visions about escaping and going home. One morning he was able to sneak away and found his way back to Britain. After arriving home, Maewyn had more dreams and visions about becoming a missionary. He felt God calling him to take the gospel back to Ireland so that he might convert those people who kidnapped him. In 432, Maewyn became a priest and returned to Ireland. By this time he had changed his name to Patrick (meaning “father of his people”). He taught and educated the people of Ireland. He built schools all along the west coast of Ireland. One of his famous illustrations was using the shamrock to explain the Godhead to Irish people (three clovers representing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). After 30 years of mission work in Ireland he passed away on March 17th 461. Soon after his death the Catholic Church bestowed the term “saint” upon him. Then, the people of Ireland established St. Patrick’s Day in his honor. St. Patrick’s Day falls during Lent. Traditionally, St. Patrick’s Day is the only day during Lent that the prohibitions against eating meat are lifted. On this day, many people celebrate with traditional Irish feasts and parties. Unfortunately, there is usually a lot of drinking (a well-known Irish past time). However, they do love to eat bacon and cabbage and anything green! Other traditions include finding a lucky four-leaved clover, kissing the blarney stone (Blarney Castle), and telling stories about leprechauns. I hope this helps you understand St. Patrick’s Day and have a greater understanding of the sacrifices of Maewyn Succat. Have a great day!

You are loved.

Dr. Ray Reynolds

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