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St. Patty wasn’t always a saint

St. Patrick’s Day has its own…reputation.

Green beer, mischievous leprechauns and T-shirts that say “Kiss me, I’m Irish.”

But what is the real point of the popular March 17 holiday?

The history

According to historians, March 17 marks the day that the actual Saint Patrick died — it was the year 461AD.

Ironically, Saint Patrick (who before his sainthood went by the less-than-catchy name of Maewyn Succat) was not even Irish.

It’s believed he was born in Scotland to wealthy Roman parents who ran colonies in Great Britain.

Ireland became a big part of the story when pirates came into the picture.

They are believed to have kidnapped Maewyn Succat, then only 16 years old, and smuggled him into Ireland to be used a slave.

And slave he did — for six years.

During his captivity, the young man turned to prayer for strength, and this seemed to work out for him since it’s believed God came to him in a dream to tell him about a ship at the harbor that would free him.

Legend has it, Maewyn took a leap of faith and ran away to the coast where a Britain-bound ship was indeed waiting for him.

The young man, now free and full of faith, went on to become a priest in France, during which time he took on the name “Saint Patrick.”

But story has it, God came to him again one night to tell him he was needed back in Ireland to spread the Christian word.

So he did.

Saint Patrick reportedly converted thousands of pagan Irish into Christianity through missionary and helped build churches all over the country.

He used the shamrock as a tool to help teach the Irish about the Holy Trinity. (Because realistically, most shamrocks only have three clovers. Four-leafed ones are considered lucky — but that’s another story.)

Feasts to celebrate the patron saint began in Catholic Christian circles in the 17th century during which time it was made an official Christian holiday, boasting shamrocks and their springy green color.

So where does all the beer come in?

During these celebrations, it was decided that on St. Patrick’s Day there would be a one-day reprieve from the Lenten restrictions of eating and drinking alcohol, which many assume is why the day is now often associated with that green beer.

Is that really what Saint Patrick had in mind for a holiday that would be named after him?

Who knows, but it’s probably safe to say that doing something good for others would have “made his day.”

Dancing for the food pantry

The Eagles Club in Detroit Lakes is holding its St. Patrick’s Dance on Saturday, March 15, from 6:30 to 11 p.m.

The dance, which will feature auction items and a buffet, is designed to raise funds for the Becker County Food Pantry, which receives matching donation funds in March.

Lucky Leprechaun 5K Fun Run

This first-ever event in Detroit Lakes is taking place at the DLCCC on Saturday, March 15, at 9 a.m.

The fundraiser is a joint effort between the DLCCC and the Detroit Lakes Girls track team, of which 10 of its members are busy trying to raise money for an upcoming competition in Australia.

The Lucky Leprechaun 5K Fun Run is what the girls’ coach Mike Labine says was all the students’ “brain child.”

“I’m really proud of them because they’re the ones that have been doing almost all the work on this thing,” said Labine, “which is what I’m so excited about because I think you appreciate things more when there’s some sweat equity into it, and nobody is handing them money to do it.”

The runners were all chosen by the Down Under Sports league to compete in the Australian competition in July. The league hand-picks high school athletes from around the world to compete, and although Labine says in his 10 years of coaching for the league and the DL girls track team, he’s never had this many from Detroit Lakes make it.

“I’ve had one here or there, but this year we have an extremely talented group of kids coming through that have all done something to earn a spot there whether it be qualifying for state or making all-conference,” said Labine.

The fun-run will be set up along the same route as the Freeze Your Buns 5K, beginning at and returning to the DLCCC, which is also where participants can register.

People can also go to and search for the Lucky Leprechaun 5K Fun Run to register. The cost is $16.

Paula Quam

Paula Quam is the editor for Forum Communications Co. newspapers in Detroit Lakes, Perham and Wadena, all in Minnesota.

(218) 844-1466