Sometimes Easter falls in the month of March, but the most common holiday associated with this month is, of course, St. Patrick’s Day. To be honest I’ve never really looked at the history or traditions that surround this holiday. However, this past year my wife and I decided to do the DNA test that you can have done through the ancestry site on the internet. And when my results came back from that test, it revealed that a good portion of my ancestry is Irish – 27% to be precise. So I thought I would look at this Irish holiday and see what I could find out about this saint that is so celebrated each year on March 17.
As it turns out, St. Patrick was not actually Irish at all. He was a Roman citizen living in Britain in the 5th century who eventually became a missionary to Ireland. Finding out that he is not Irish is a little disappointing, but he still holds a fair amount of interest for me because my DNA results also show my origins to be 32% Great Britain. So in reality about 59% of my heritage is now connected to this holiday.
The real interest in St. Patrick though is that he is primarily known for the work he did with the Druid culture of Ireland. The Druid culture was a group of people in Ireland who would be considered upper class by today’s standards. They were professionals and leaders in the medical, religious and political fields. And it was to this group of folks that St. Patrick felt called to share the gospel, and he became quite successful in being a conduit for Christianity to spread throughout that area. In fact, St. Patrick is credited with being the founder of Christianity in Ireland (although we all know that Christ is the actual founder).
I know that in our modern day, and for many centuries now, St. Patrick’s Day is associated with things like dressing up in green clothing, shamrocks, leprechauns and green beer. And in some ways it is a shame that something that originated with such a redemptive thing as Christ being made known to a whole new culture has become more of an excuse to drink beer, but perhaps we could all make it a point this year on St. Patrick’s Day to pause and to ponder how our own lives might accomplish some of what St. Patrick’s did. Perhaps we could, in the midst of any celebration we might be a part of, share what we now know this holiday was originally intended to celebrate. In fact – here is quote from St. Patrick that could be a reminder of the role Christ has in all of our lives.
“Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.” – St. Patrick