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St Patrick’s Day is celebrated on 17 March every year. It supposedly started as a religious holiday in Ireland to commemorate the anniversary of his death in the 5th century. It falls during the Catholic observance of Lent, so special rules have been applied through the years to lift Lenten sanctions on this day. That alone should give one pause, for, if Lent were truly as holy as some claim, then how could its holiness be suspended for a day of eating and drinking?
Q: Why do Protestants desire to observe days, such as St Valentine’s and St Patrick’s Days, that are for Catholic saints?
One of the criticisms I have leveled and continue to do so against Protestants is the fact that they never really came out of the Catholic Church. Almost all of them still keep traditions that are not found in the Bible and do not keep traditions that are found in the Bible. Instead of basing their beliefs and worship on the Bible, they base it upon Catholic tradition.
What criticism did Jesus level against the religious elite of His day?
6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
~ Mk 7:6-8
Yet, people blindly follow what their religious leaders tell them, and they do not believe what God’s Word tells them. God says to not worship Him as the pagans do!
29 When the Lord thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land;
30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.
31 Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.
32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
What Parts of St Patrick’s Day Are Pagan?
Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs.
~ History.com, “Who Was St. Patrick?“
Bonfires were used by the Irish to honor their pagan gods. Patrick incorporated their use into the observance of Easter.
The Celtic Cross
True Christians realize that crosses have been around a long time before the crucifixion of Christ. They have been found in such diverse ancient civilizations as the Aztecs and the Egyptians. While it is conceivable that Jesus died on a T-shaped cross, the Romans sometimes just used plain stakes if there was a lack of trees. However, that is rather beside the point. Even if He died on a cross, using it as a symbol for worship is nothing less than idolatry.
Most civilizations used crosses in worship of the sun. The lines emanating out were representative of the rays of the sun. However, after the “Christianization” of the symbol, this meaning was forgotten except for a few paintings here and there.
Patrick realized that the sun was a powerful symbol to the Irish, so he superimposed the sun onto the cross. He did this to make the cross seem more natural to venerate (again, idolatry). This is known as “the Celtic cross” to this day. It is an amalgam of 2 pagan symbols.
This symbol is usually related to how Patrick explained the doctrine of the trinity, which is itself a pagan idea. A shamrock has 3 leaves, but they are joined together and make one plant. However, it seems that the attribution of this to St Patrick is actually fiction. It didn’t come until much later.
The shamrock, or “seamroy”, was actually a sacred plant to the ancient Celts. It symbolized the rebirth of spring.
The leprechaun probably evolved from a belief in fairies, which are small magical creatures. They could use their powers for good or for evil.
Do I really need to elaborate on this?
The history of the Catholic Church is filled with taking over pagan ideas, symbols and holidays and “Christianizing” them. This is called syncretism, and God condemns it. It really boils down to: Will we obey God or follow the world’s traditions?
- History.com, “Symbols and Traditions – St. Patrick’s Day“
- History.com, “Who was Saint Patrick“
- History.com, “The History of St. Patrick’s Day“