St. Patrick and the Power of Celebration

St. Patrick and the Power of Celebration March 17, 2020

One of the things we have discovered when working with organizations around the world is the power of celebration. In short, what gets celebrated gets repeated. Those things we most tightly connect with joy are the things we will be intentional about pursuing once again.

If you take a bird’s eye view of the entire calendar, we have a lot of celebrations. From Christmas and New Years to Valentine’s Day, July 4th, and Halloween. We average a major holiday once every six weeks.

Curious, I spent some time this week to look into Saint Patrick’s Day. How did it start? What does it celebrate? Why do we repeat it year after year.



It probably won’t shock you to know that St. Paddy’s started in the 17th Century as a celebration of Irish culture. It celebrates the death of the saint who brought Christianity to Ireland.

Like any good legend, there is a mix of fact and fiction. For example, St. Patrick is not Irish. He is an immigrant. He was kidnapped and sold into slavery as a teenager. And he is also credited with banishing snakes from the island.

Throughout modern history, the Irish have spread around the world, significantly here in the United States. And the celebration followed these immigrants and morphed into what it is today – a sea of green to celebrate everything about the people of Ireland.

It is strange, when you think about it, that of all the peoples and countries and places in history, it is the Irish who have claimed such a historic spot. The reason? They’ve celebrated well.


The Power of Celebration

The point is this: our tradition of St. Patrick’s Day and the practice of wearing green are indicative of how powerful a proper celebration can be. It is not only indicative of culture and what we value within that culture, it also shapes and influences the very culture it represents.

Celebration is not only the result of a culture, it is the fuel that drives it.

Every organization has a culture. Your marriage, your group of friends, your church. Our country and every country in the world. Your neighborhood and schools and offices all have a culture.

What does your organization celebrate? Fact, fiction, myth, legend? Faith, personality, or a specific mission?

Whatever it is, the things you celebrate will be repeated. It is what you will be known for. It is what people will see when they look at you and your organization. It will be the fuel for how people perceive your culture and your mission. The Irish have done well. See that you follow their example and celebrate effectively the things you want to see repeated.

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