A Grade Ahead Explores Origins: St. Patrick’s Day

March 17th is fast approaching, and with it, another St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Many different thoughts come to mind at the mention of the holiday such as leprechauns, shamrocks, and red beards. Few people, however, know the truth about why St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated. At A Grade Ahead, we decided to enrich our minds and investigate!

According to History, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations can be dated as far back as the ninth or 10th century. On March 17th, the Roman Catholic people of Ireland held a day of feasts to honor Saint Patrick, their patron saint. St. Patrick’s death on March 17th, 461 was the reason that day was selected.

Who was St. Patrick?

Many legends and myths have been told about St. Patrick since his life in the fifth century. While these fantastical tales are entertaining and have secured St. Patrick in history, the truth about his life is slightly different. Known as “Patricius” during his life, he was a missionary for the Christian church. He helped usher in that religion to Ireland and was loved by many for his efforts. St. Patrick found himself in Ireland under unfortunate conditions, though. Later, he was sold into slavery and sent there when he was just 16 years old. Though he was delt an unfair hand, Patricius was able to turn his life around and start spreading his message.

One of Patricius’s most valued contributions to history was his Confessio. This is a religious manuscript that is one of the earliest historical documents available from Ireland. In it, he wrote about his life and experiences. He also shared some of his experiences with the people of Ireland.

Folklore of the Patron Saint

Once upon a time, a story was told about St. Patrick’s amazing feat and victory against the snakes of Ireland. However, Kid’s National Geographic shares that this accomplishment would have been impossible for St. Patrick. It would be impossible because snakes have never inhabited Ireland to begin with. Even the United States has perpetuated this myth. See the political cartoon created by Clifford Berryman and shared by the National Archives Catalog. It shows Uncle Sam preparing to fight off snakes.

St. Patrick’s Day Today

There are many fun traditions aligned with St. Patrick’s Day today. For starters, according to Kid’s Nat Geo, the color green makes you invisible to leprechauns. On St. Patrick’s Day, you should wear green to keep leprechauns from pinching you! Other people believe that green will bring you luck because it is the color of shamrocks. Shamrocks and leprechauns are both reasons why green is so important to the celebrations. In Chicago, the Chicago River is dyed green every year to celebrate the holiday!

Another St. Patrick’s Day celebration includes eating a traditional Irish dish called corned beef and cabbage. Additionally, you can get into the spirit by viewing elaborate St. Patrick’s Day parades!

Get Involved

Get ready to share your favorite St. Patrick’s Day traditions with your teacher and class the week of March 17th! You can create a felt shamrock or search for a lucky four-leaf-clover in your yard. Don’t forget about those mischievous leprechauns. They are professional pinchers, and they love gold.

Are you already a student at A Grade Ahead? If you want to recognize the celebration even more, consider wearing your best green outfit and accessories to your English or math class the week of March 17th. I’ll be donning green earrings! We hope to see you there!

Want to join the A Grade Ahead family? It’s never too late to take a free assessment and get the best after school enrichment for you child.


Author: Kyrsten O’Donnell, teacher at A Grade Ahead, Inc.


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