Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Christian Tradition of St. Patrick’s Day

I love St. Patrick’s Day, and not just because I love the color green.

Despite what the world thinks, we Christians know that St. Patrick’s Day is not about drinking green beer and wearing scads of green plastic beads.

I love St. Patrick’s Day because it honors a missionary.

We do wear green, and we have a special family meal with green punch. We tell St. Patrick’s Day jokes and laugh at them even though they don’t change from year to year and everyone knows the punch lines. (I’ll share those and the punch recipe later this week.)

But we also tell the story of St. Patrick and talk about the trinity.

Patrick was born somewhere around 385 AD in Wales under the name of Maewyn. A pagan, he was captured and sold into slavery by Irish raiders when he was 16 years old. During his six years of slavery, he grew closer to God and, after his escape, he studied in a monastery. As he studied, he heard God’s call to return to Ireland to preach the gospel. Maewyn adopted the Christian name of Patrick, and the church eventually appointed him as the second bishop to Ireland.

Despite several arrests and escapes, he was very successful in his missionary work, establishing monasteries, schools, and churches. He retired after thirty years on the mission field, and we celebrate March 17 because that is the day of his death.

The shamrock has become a symbol of St. Patrick’s Day and, although it is not substantiated, it is generally believed that Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to demonstrate the trinity – how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all separate yet one.

Isn’t that terrific? I love it when something concrete can be used to illustrate a difficult and abstract concept!


Did you already know the legend of the shamrock? How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?


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  1. Thanks for sharing! I love the symbolism of shamrock. We LOVE St. Patrick's Day at our house.

    I am over from the Homemaking Link Up!

    1. Thanks, Tara! And congratulations on your new little one -- what a blessing!

  2. Great post...thanks for sharing this. Hope that you will have a fantastic St. Patrick's Day weekend! Glad that you are back from vacation...hope that your family had a lovely time. :)

  3. I enjoyed reading your blog about St Patrick's Day. I was also happy to see you back at church last night. Didn't get back to talk to you but I would love to hear about your vacation on Sunday.

    1. Thanks for reading, Jen, but there isn't much to say about vacation -- it was restfully boring. See you Sunday!


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