I will try avoid getting pinched again today, remembering to wear green to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not Irish, nor do I particularly like the colour green as an adornment but teaching in a Junior High School, it’s almost mandatory to “celebrate” this day by wearing obligatory green and accentuating my attire with a shamrock brooch. It goes without saying, I won’t be attending any festive parades, nor will I indulge in drinking green beer.
People all over the world celebrate the 17th of March to honour St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Born in Britain during the 4th century, St. Patrick, was kidnapped when he was a teenager and enslaved by Irish raiders. He was able to escape after six years and became a priest in Britain but later chose to return to Ireland as a missionary. According to Irish folklore, he used a shamrock to explain the Christian concept of the Trinity to the Irish. In spite of continuous opposition from pagan leaders, he continued to evangelize for thirty years while baptizing the newly converted and establishing monasteries, churches and schools. He died on March 17th, and it is his “death day” we celebrate each year.
There is much debate amongst Evangelical Christians whether or not this day should even be acknowledged because it is predominantly a Catholic religious observance that has evolved into a day of celebrating Irish folklore, culture and national identity. For those who are not Irish or have any religious affiliation, the day becomes basically a good excuse for a drinking party.
Here’s my opinion, take it or leave it. Just like Christians observing Halloween, and St. Valentine’s Day and having no trouble with Santa Claus and including a few bunnies at Easter, St. Patrick’s Day falls under a “holiday” category where individuals and families must decide whether or not they want to participate in commemorating a predominantly secular event. Wearing hearts for Valentine’s Day, or wearing bunny ears for Easter will likely not affect your Christian witness, neither will dressing in green and wearing a shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day. If you want to evangelize, you might like to point out to those who do not know the symbolism of the shamrock to explain how the Trinity might be represented and you might have a conversation that shows how the shamrock is shaped like the Cross. Of course that may be stretching the Christian symbolism too far. My thought is to just enjoy the day like you might have enjoyed “Pi Day” on March 14th by having a piece of pie. Wear a shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day but stay away from the green beer. 🙂