There are puzzles for just about everything, isn’t there? Even St. Patrick’s Day! I was surprised how many puzzles we had for this holiday.
I love this job of blogging for you puzzle-people because it gets me thinking. After looking at all the wonderful green and Irish puzzles, I realize I didn’t actually know all that much about St. Patrick’s Day, besides “wear green or you’ll get pinched.”
So who was St. Patrick and why do we celebrate him?
St. Patrick is credited with bringing Christianity to the Irish people in the fifth century. Born in Roman Britain, he was captured as a slave at age 16 and escaped to Ireland. It’s believed that he died on March 17, 461—the day we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day now.
One famous legend about him is that he taught people about the Holy Trinity using the three leaves of a clover. Patrick would hold up a shamrock and challenge nonbelievers, “Is it one leaf or three?” Their answer that it was “both one leaf and three,” evoked his response: “And so it is with God.”
You didn’t need to travel to Ireland for the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade, though. While since the 9th or 10th century, the Irish have been celebrating the feast of St. Patrick, the first parade actually happened in the US on March 17, 1762. Irishmen in the English military marched through New York City and played traditional Irish music to reconnect with their Irish roots and each other.
Traditionally, St. Patrick’s Day was a religious occasion where families in Ireland would go to church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon; it was a day in which the Lent prohibition against eating meat was waived and people would dance to music, drink, and have a feast. Up until the 1970s, pubs were mandated to be closed on March 17 because of the sacredness of the holiday. In 1995, the government began using interest in the holiday to drive tourism and showcase Irish culture to the rest of the world.
It’s said that originally the color associated with St. Patrick’s Day was blue. It switched to green sometime in the 17th century. Green has a lot of associations with Ireland—it’s one of the three colors on the Ireland flag, it’s the color of the shamrock, a symbol of spring, and Ireland has been dubbed “The Emerald Isle.”
We wear green on St. Patrick’s Day because some people thought that wearing green made you invisible to leprechauns. Leprechauns are fairy people that pinch anyone they can see, so people began pinching people to remind them what was at stake by being sans-green on March 17!