Origins of St. Patrick’s Day: Showing us why Exchange Matters


Normally on Thursdays we like to share a cultural post about a different culture, country, or event happening somewhere around the world. If you haven’t found out already, today is St. Patrick’s day and it’s one of the most widely celebrated holidays in America! An integral part of Student Exchange is where International Students learn about the customs and cultural happenings in the country they visit, and St. Patrick’s day serves as a fantastic example of a day in which students learn about the hybrid nature of American (and Irish!) cultural heritage.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the Roman Catholic feast day of the patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick died on March 17, 461. But did you know that he wasn’t even Irish? Here are some fun facts about St. Patrick and some activities you can use to teach about his day. Kilbennan_St._Benin's_Church_Window_St._Patrick_Detail_2010_09_16

-Patrick became a bishop and after his death was named Ireland’s patron saint. Celebrations in Ireland were understated though. When the Irish emigrated to the U.S., they created the bigger celebrations and parades known today.

– The Shamrock: According to legend, St. Patrick used the shamrock clover to explain the Holy Trinity to Celtic & native residents of Ireland when Christianity began to spread to the region in the 400’s.

Corn beef and cabbage: This is an Irish American dish. Irish Americans were so poor they could not afford certain meals. On St. Patrick’s Day, the best meal they could afford was beef and cabbage. It became a staple for the holiday.

St. Patricks Day is unique in that it was a holiday that originated in Ireland, but has become an integral part of the American traditional fabric that really personifies America’s ability to adapt to and integrate multiple cultures into a large inclusive national identity. These are the kinds of things we urge our Exchange students to learn while they study in America, and if you want to be a part of that experience then Apply to be a Host Family today!

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