THIS EDITORIAL first ran in The Daily Star in 2009. It runs again this year in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

So, why will we be celebrating St. Patrick's Day today?

The better question is _ saints be praised _ why wouldn't we?

It will take more than a struggling economy to keep revelers from frolicking on the streets of downtown Oneonta, and that's just fine as long as the drinking doesn't get out of hand.

It doesn't really matter that most of those who will mark the day with green beer, corned beef and cabbage and silly hats won't be terribly well-versed on just who this St. Patrick was.

No, contrary to legend, he didn't banish all the snakes from Ireland. In fact, he wasn't even born in the Emerald Isle.

What we know about him is rather sketchy, but it would seem to be accurate that he was born in the fifth century in Britain, the son of Calpurnius, a wealthy deacon who lived in the village of Bannaven Taberniae.

When the future saint was 16, he was kidnapped by a raiding party from Ireland and taken there to be sold into slavery to tend sheep and pigs.

There he stayed for six years, his thoughts turning more and more to devout Christianity, before he escaped and rejoined his family in England.

After 15 years of study, he returned to Ireland, intent on expanding the Christian population.

In this 30-year mission, he was quite successful, often incorporating Celtic and pagan nature-related traditions and symbols into his work.

As he put it himself in his writings, Patrick "baptized thousands, ordained clerics everywhere and rejoiced to see the flock of the Lord in Ireland growing splendidly."

Naturally, Irish immigrants brought St. Patrick's Day with them to the United States.

St. Patrick's Day celebrations occurred here decades before American independence. The first was in Boston, in 1737. New York City, now home to the largest annual St. Patrick's Day parade outside of Ireland, had its first observance in 1756.

George Washington allowed his Irish troops a holiday in 1780 on March 17, the anniversary date of the saint's death.

If it was a good enough reason for the father of our country to take time away from fighting the war for American independence, it's certainly a good enough reason for the rest of us to observe the day.

Sure and begorrah, every year on March 17, we are all Irish, and proud of it.

We leave you with these traditional wishes on this holiday:

May your blessings outnumber

The Shamrocks that grow

And may trouble avoid you

Wherever you go.

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