St. Patrick’s Day… History, Meaning and Moving Forward

Though rooted in Christian tradition, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by all, religious and non, especially in Savannah. The city prepares all year for this spectacular event. The famous fountain at Forsyth is dyed green and citizens are adorning our favorite color. We are excited as the big day approaches. But I must admit, I have to wonder if we ever consider the origin of this special day.

In the 5th century, the iconic Saint Patrick traveled to northern Ireland and converted thousands. While evangelizing, he used the allegory of snakes to help make his point. He declared that he was “driving the snakes” out of Ireland. Though ironically, there were no literal snakes in Ireland. He was referring to the evil passion and people in the country. He left the country completely different. St. Patrick died on March 17th, 461, which is why we celebrate on that day.

Often St. Patrick’s Day lands during on the Christian calendar during the season called Lent, the 40 days leading to Easter. During this time Christians remember the journey of Christ to the cross and reflect on their sinful nature. Christians historically abstained from feasts and alcohol during the Lent season. But, religious authorities believed that Saint Patrick should be celebrated. Therefore, on March 17th, the restrictions were lifted in order to celebrate the life and work of St. Patrick. Therefore, the people were encouraged to have elaborate celebrations on this special day during Lent.

As I reflect on St. Patrick’s origins, I am reminded of the importance of celebration and freedom. His work was about spiritual and emotional independence for the people, who were once under the power of “snakes”. When you celebrate on Saturday, I want to encourage you to remember this story of freedom. Take time to let go of the “snakes” in your own life and celebrate with friends and family. If you feel too overwhelmed with the “snakes” and find it difficult to enjoy the day, please give us a call. There is freedom out there.

Whitney Owens, LPC, MA