St Patrick s Day history and origins, "Why do they call it that?"

10:51 AM, Mar 17, 2011   |    comments
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We all know St. Patrick's Day means it's time to get out your green gear and start the celebration. But who was St. Patrick, and what's the deal with all this partying on his big day? 

Why do they call it St. Patrick's Day?

You'll find a pair of paddy-inspired places of worship around Tampa Bay -- St. Patrick Catholic Churches in Largo and South Tampa.

The man who gave his name to these stoic sanctuaries is also the guy who inspired the raucous partying that spills out of pubs and into the streets every March 17th.

St. Patricks Day quotes

St. Patricks Day recipes

I'll explain.

As a young man 1,500 years ago, Maewyn Succat had visions. They were inspired by his faith -- not by green beer.

One vision drove him to convert the people of Ireland to Catholicism. When he took his oath as a priest, he took a new name: Patrick.

The whole saint thing came later, after legend says he used a shamrock to teach the Holy Trinity and drove the snakes out of Ireland.

Funny thing. Ireland never had any snakes. None at all. It's probably a metaphor for chasing away pagan religions.

St. Patrick died in 461. Specifically, the story goes, he passed away on March 17th.

In Ireland, festivals celebrated him on that day. And the partying people were given a one-day break from the usually subdued religious season of Lent.

As Irish immigrants spread to other countries, traditions like St. Patrick's Day went along, too.

Why do they call it that? Now you know.

We'll be featuring new "Why do they call it that?" stories each Wednesday on 10 News at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m..

Check out previous editions of "Why do they call it that?" plus links to photos and maps from Tampa Bay's past at our "Why do they call it that?" website:

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Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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