March 17, 2015

Saint Patrick's Day Through the Eyes of Google Doodles

A green Google logo adorned with a rainbow and pot of gold.
Saint Patrick’s Day Google Doodle from 2001.
By Megan G.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!  If you have been on the Internet at all today, you probably saw the adorable Google Doodle gracing the search engine’s homepage.  For this special post, the Tek Team would like to enlighten you with some interesting facts about this Irish-based holiday that you may not already know.  

Also, thanks to the Google Doodle Archive, we have access to the charming images posted on every March 17th for the past few years.  Without further ado, let’s follow this rainbow to our golden factoids!

What’s the deal with shamrocks?

Anthropomorphic shamrocks dancing and playing an Irish jig.

While Google’s shamrocks are having a ton of cartoony fun doing their Irish jig, the origin of these three-leafed clovers is a little more serious.  When Saint Patrick first brought Christianity to Ireland in 432 A.D., he allegedly used the three leaves of shamrocks as a metaphor to explain the Holy Trinity.

Who is Saint Patrick?

The Google Logo made from green stained glass with a heart and crown decorating it.

Saint Patrick may be the patron saint of Ireland, but he wasn’t born there.  Originally, his name was Maewyn Succat and he was born to Roman parents in either England, Scotland, or Wales.  He took the name Patricius, which is anglicized as “Patrick,” after becoming a priest.  Saint Patrick is said to have founded more than 300 churches and baptized more than 120,000 Irish citizens.

Why do we celebrate on March 17th?

Irish men and women step dancing and adorned with the Google letters.

March 17th is said to be the date of Saint Patrick’s death and used to be a solely religious observance.  In the United States, pubs remained closed on Saint Patrick’s Day and people practiced solemnity.
After the day was recognized as a national holiday in the 1970s, however, Saint Patrick’s Day has become a day of great celebration and lots of drinking.  Americans are expected to spend $4.6 billion for their Saint Patty’s Day romps this year.  A pint of Guinness, anybody?

Side note:  The first St. Patrick’s Day parade happened on March 17th, 1762 in New York City.  To this day, the parade still doesn’t allow floats, cars, or any other modern additions. 

A Bit of Irish Lore

The Google logo written in illuminated script, inspired by the Book of Kells

This particular Doodle owes its design to the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript important to the art and history of Ireland.  Even though it isn’t directly linked to Saint Patrick’s life, this Irish treasure from 800 A.D. contains the four Gospels of the New Testament and showcases the richness of Irish culture.

Why wear green?

Three swans swimming in a glittering lake with red flowers on top of the Google logo.

Actually, the funny thing is… we should be wearing blue.  Saint Patrick was celebrated with a light shade of blue on his Feast day.  The color green only became associated with Saint Patrick’s Day after the Irish Volunteers became active during Ireland’s independence movement in the 18th century.

We hope you enjoyed this journey into the history and culture of Saint Patrick’s Day.  Have a great time, drink responsibly, and ruminate on the true origins of this holiday.  Erin go Bragh!  

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