The history of St. Patrick’s Day

Every year, the Hillsborough River turns green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The dye they used was environmentally safe and satisfies EPA standards.

Wikimedia Commons


Hailey Le Roy, Editor-in-Chief


   Day after day, it becomes increasingly evident that the pattern of postponing Tampa’s most looked-forward-to events will continue throughout the year. This year, Super Bowl LVI and its subsequent Ybor parties and boat parade, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla announced that both of its parades will occur as planned. . Tampa’s Gasparilla event is a huge deal; around a million people in total attend the various happenings and it is a huge stimulus for the city’s economy. Based on this, one could assume the Hillsborough River will have a wonderful year celebrating turning green.  

  Please, though, do not fret, for the only thing better than celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is learning why St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated.

   Although celebrations in the United States are typically secular, St. Patrick’s Day has its roots in Christianity. Well, Christianity and paganism.

   Funny enough, Saint Patrick was not Irish, but British. Initially not an icon, he was enslaved as a teen and brought to Ireland, escaped, then went back to Ireland to convert the Irish to Christianity much later in his life. This all happened in the fifth century, yet St. Patrick’s Day was not celebrated until many centuries later.

   This sounds pretty straightforward, but what one must consider is what was in Ireland before Christianity. It is a common saying that Saint Patrick got rid of snakes during his visit to Ireland. As the story goes, he chased them all into the sea after they attacked him, albeit it is unlikely snakes were ever in Ireland; the island and surrounding waters would have been far too cold. Many people argue that in this case, snakes are a metaphor for paganism.

   Through his missionary strategies of opening churches and using pagan practices such as fire to teach Christian values, St. Patrick was able to completely change the religion of an entire country. He did not physically drive any pagans out of Ireland, though.

   Many pagans disagree with the actions of St. Patrick and make this known by wearing black during the holiday. They may also wear snake-themed accessories to represent the pagans that were converted.

   To end on a lighter note: based on research, it is assumed the first parade for St. Patrick’s Day was held in St. Augustine, a little over three hours from Lithia. Although St. Patrick’s Day is (obviously) widely celebrated in Ireland and its major cities, the tradition of parades was invented in the United States.

   It is easy to celebrate holidays without understanding their complicated (or perhaps controversial) history. However, one must not forget the importance of grasping all sides of a situation. Understanding the nuance during this time of celebration may enhance the experience and, if choosing to partake in festivities, make one’s holiday even greener.