We’re all a bit Irish one day every year. On March 17, people across the US and Ireland will don green, wear shamrocks and celebrate the feast of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Always a day of great joy and good fun, there are stories abound regarding the legend of St. Patrick. And as with all great legends, somethings are true and others… well, let’s just say the facts have been stretched a bit.
Get ready for St. Patrick’s Day this Sunday with a rundown of the facts and myths told regarding St. Patrick:
MYTH: St. Patrick was Irish
Actually, St. Patrick was from Britain. He was taken as a slave from his homeland to Ireland. While tending sheep in his new country, Patrick converted to Christianity. After years in servitude, Patrick had a dream calling him to escape his captors and spread the Gospel to the Celtic people of the region. Although he wasn’t Irish, and evangelizing the people of Ireland was tough work, after his death, the legend of Patrick grew throughout Ireland – which remains a deeply Christian country to date. He would later be considered an honorary Irishman, as he was named the patron saint of the island in the century following his death.
FACT: St. Patrick used a shamrock to teach the Celts
It’s true. The three-leafed clover helped Patrick teach the Celtic and Gaelic peoples about the Holy Trinity. Botanists agree the clover that still dominates much of Ireland and Europe was around in the days of Patrick and very well could have been used by the saint.
MYTH: St. Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland
Sadly, this is only a myth. While there were no snakes in Ireland after St. Patrick, there were likely none there before him. The small island surrounded by icy waters has never had a snake problem and likely this more a metaphor relating to Patrick’s driving out of the devil (commonly depicted as a serpent) and converting all of Ireland.
MYTH: St. Patrick wore green
If you’re daring enough to not wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, you might be risking a bit of a pinching from your friends and family. Many people think we wear green because the saint himself did so. In fact, Patrick likely wore blue according to scholars. Green was adopted due to Ireland being known as the “Emerald Isle.” Irish-Americans adopted this color to celebrate their patron saint’s feast day in remembrance of their home.
FACT: We’re all a bit lucky on St. Patrick’s Day
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