When I was growing up, St. Patrick's Day was all about wearing green. Dashing off to school, my brother, sister and I would check to be sure that whatever green clothing or accessories we had selected to wear to the school that day were highly visible. Had to. It was more of a matter of self defense than anything else against those who took great pleasure in pinching anyone who was not wearing green.
According to some, the tradition of St. Patrick's Day which is rooted in Ireland before the 1600's, offered a 'reprise' from Lent, the forty day period of fasting that precedes Easter in the Catholic tradition. It was on this day that people could drink alcohol and indulge in a variety of merrymaking activities.
Here in the San Francisco Bay Area many people - Irish or not - flock to the bars and saloons of San Francisco where they often bar hop until they can't hop anymore.
But I don't think that was the original plan for this Saint's day.
Patrick (AD 387–461)is the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland. Born in Roman Britain in the fifth century was a deacon in the Church like his father before him. At the age of sixteen he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken captive to Ireland as a slave. In time he fled captivity and boarded a ship that returned him to England where he promptly became a priest.
A bishop in 432 he returned to Ireland to save the Irish, rich and poor alike.Irish folklore tells that one of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) to the Irish people.
Records show that in 1903, Saint Patrick's Day became an official public holiday in Ireland. The first Saint Patrick's Day parade held in the Irish Free State was held in Dublin in 1931 and in the mid-1990s that the Irish government began a campaign to use Saint Patrick's Day to showcase Ireland and its culture.
Having no known Irish bones in my body, I easily accepted our PG rated Americanized version of St. Patrick's Day and happily wore something green to school. I looked forward to the delicious corned beef and cabbage my mother made that day each year. A first generation American from Rhodes (the Spanish Jewish quarter), she delighted in all American holidays regardless of their religious beginnings. So we celebrated St. Patrick's Day hoping the 'luck of the Irish' would shine down upon us!