Spring is just around the corner. Really. The first day of spring is March 20th. Before that happens, however, we will all be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. But, what do we really know about St. Patrick? More importantly, what’s going on in the Destin area to celebrate the life of this Saint of Ireland?

Sometime around 387 AD in Roman Britain, Patrick was born. Little is known about Patrick’s early life except that he came from a wealthy family, his father was a deacon and his grandfather a priest in the Christian church. When he was 16, Patrick was kidnapped by a gang of Irish raiders who were pillaging his family’s estate and taken to Ireland. It was there that he spent the next six years, slaving as a shepherd, mostly alone. During this time, he turned to his religion for comfort and became a devout Christian.

The Lord Speaks to Patrick

According to his own writings, God spoke to Patrick and told him it was time to leave Ireland. So, Patrick walked almost 200 miles to the coast and escaped to Britain. At some point, after returning to Britain, an angel appeared to Patrick in a dream and told him to return to Ireland as a missionary. He spent the next 15 years studying religion and was ordained as a priest. After ordination, he was sent to Ireland to minister to the few Christians who were already living there and to convert the pagans to Christianity.

It is believed that Patrick used, as a teaching aid, the three leaves of a shamrock to represent the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Also, as was common when converting people from one belief system to another, he borrowed from the indigenous religion the symbol of the sun. He superimposed the sun onto the Christian cross, creating the Celtic cross. Some accounts suggest that within 200 years of Patrick’s return to Ireland, the entire island had converted to Christianity.

On March 17, approximately 460 AD, Patrick died. He has never been formally beatified a saint by a pope however, shortly after his death he began being recognized as one.

Some interesting St. Patrick’s Day facts (via history.com):

St. Patrick’s Day Celebration

• Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dish. In 2009, roughly 26.1 billion pounds of beef and 2.3 billion pounds of cabbage were produced in the United States.
• Irish soda bread gets its name and distinctive character from the use of baking soda rather than yeast as a leavening agent.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

• The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in the United States on March 17, 1762, when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City.
• More than 100 St. Patrick’s Day parades are held across the United States. New York City and Boston are home to the largest celebrations.

Places to Spend St. Patrick’s Day

• There are seven places in the United States named after the shamrock, the floral emblem of Ireland including Mount Gay-Shamrock, WV; Shamrock, TX; Shamrock Lakes, IN; and Shamrock, OK.
• Sixteen U.S. places share the name of Ireland’s capital, Dublin. With 44,541 residents, Dublin, CA, is the largest of these, followed by Dublin, OH, with 39,310.
• Other towns with the luck of the Irish include Emerald Isle, North Carolina and Irishtown, Illinois.

Facts about Irish Americans

• There are 34.7 million U.S. residents with Irish ancestry. This number is more than seven times the population of Ireland itself.
• Irish is the nation’s second most frequently reported ancestry, ranking behind German.
• There are approximately 144,588 current U.S. residents who were born in Ireland.

So, what’s going on in Destin for St. Patrick’s Day? Here are a couple of things.

The 7th Annual 30A St. Patrick’s Parade and Festival will be on Saturday, March 15th. There will be more than 50 floats and parade entries along the four-mile route. Parade begins at 3:00. For more information, see 30AParade.com

St. Patty’s Day Delight at the Village of Baytowne Wharf is an opportunity to celebrate traditional Celtic music and all things Irish. The celebration begins at 6:00 pm on St. Patty’s day, March 17th. For more information, visit sandestin.com/events

And, of course, McGuire’s of Destin will have their annual St. Patrick’s Day Extravaganza. There will be feasting, imbibery and debauchery as well as entertainment provided by Brooks Hubbert. For more info on this event, see their Facebook page.

There you go. And, remember, this is just a small sampling of all of the great things that are just a flight away. If you have questions about getting here, get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter.