Noticed a proliferation of bright, emerald green clothing in the shops lately? Tall hats sporting a three-leafed clover? That's because March 17th is the day of St Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, the Emerald Isle.
St Patrick was born around 380CE in Wales, then part of the Roman Empire, and was originally named Maewyn Succat, but became Patrick (Pádraig) later in his life, possibly at his baptism. When he was sixteen he was captured by Irish raiders and sold into slavery in Ireland. Over the next six years he worked as a shepherd and was visited by religious visions. In one of these he was told of a ship and he consequently escaped Ireland and returned to his family. He went on to study in the church and became a bishop. Then he decided to return Ireland as a missionary. He used the shamrock (three leafed clover) to symbolise and explain the holy trinity of the father, son and holy spirit —three aspects of a single God— and it became an emblem of Ireland.
There are many legends telling of the miraculous deeds carried out by St Patrick but the best known is the tale of his driving all the snakes of Ireland into the sea, where they drowned. It's not now widely believed that there were any snakes in post-glacial Ireland but the snakes in the tale may be a metaphor for Paganism as the snake was used as a powerful symbol in Druid cultures.
As well as being a day of religious observance, St Patrick's Day is celebrated in Irish communities around the world with the wearing of green garments, parades, and the consumption of traditional Irish fare like soda bread and guinness. Here's a link to some St Patrick's Day craft and recipe ideas. And if you're looking for some flowers to commemorate the occasion why not look at our beautiful lime green bouquet, featuring shamrock chrysanthemums.