It is that time of the year again, when you grab whatever green clothes you may have and head to you local Irish pub. If you are lucky enough, you may actually be in Ireland, and get to experience it first hand… but do you really know about March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day.
So lets take just a few minutes to find out about the man, the legend and the day that everyone wants to be Irish. When you come to think of it, what other holiday do most other countries celebrate from another.
1.St. Patrick wasn’t Irish.
He was brought to Ireland as a slave from Britain in the year 426AD. He tended sheep on the North Coast of Country Antrim, Ireland during the night for 6 years until he escaped back to Britain at the age of 22… probably Scotland or Wales. He would return as a ordained Priest, and begin his conversions.
2.March 17th, is the day St. Patrick died.
After spending much of his adult life in Ireland converting the pagans to Christianity. This holy day, is the day of his death, and his entrance to heaven… most think it is his birth date.
3.The story of the Shamrock
It is said that St. Patrick used the Shamrock (3 Leaf Clover) to describe the Holy Trinity… the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Which are all separate yet one the same.
FYI, the odds of finding a 4 leaf clover are 1 in 10,000.
4.Did St. Patrick wear Green?
What we know from his early days on his return to Ireland after 432 AD is that he wore Blue. This is seen in many artwork depictions, so where did all of the Green come into play. Some will say it is with the colour of the Shamrock, others will say the Emerald colour of the countryside. Most say it came from the times of Irish Independence movement of the 18th century.
5.Is the Shamrock the symbol of Ireland?
Although the Shamrock plays an important role in the story of St. Patrick and its meaning in conversions… as the Celts believed the 3 leaves had a meaning. The Harp is believed to be at the Battle of Clontarf on 1014 (near Dublin), where Brian Boru defeated the Vikings. Brian played the harp, and some claim 1 of 3 harps at Trinity College, Dublin was his. You will find the Harp on Euro 50cent coins in Ireland.
6.Did St. Patrick drive the snakes from Ireland
It is a great story, some say it was used to help convert the pagans. There is no evidence though that snakes ever inhabited Ireland, and the reference to driving the snakes, may be driving Pagan beliefs away.
On March 17th, people will drink 3 times the normal amount of Guinness. From the average of 5.5 million pints a day, to the hefty 15 million pints of the “Black Stuff”. This is one of the reasons that Guinness is the largest consumed beer in the world.
8.Is St. Patrick really Patrick?
No, his original name was “Maewyn Succat” which does give more evidence to him being originally from Wales. He would change his name to “Patricius” after becoming a priest.
9.Where was the 1st ever St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Well with a heading like that, you probably think it would be in the Emerald Isle… most likely Dublin. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it was in New York City in 1762. If you look at the numbers of Irish Americans today it is around 40 million, while there is only 4.2 million people living in the Ireland at the moment. All of this is due to a history of emigration from Ireland to the USA, where a life in the new colonies was seen as a better opportunity then back in Ireland, where the Catholics faced many hardships.
10.Was St. Patrick’s Day a day for drinking?
From the early 1900’s until 1970 St. Patrick’s Day was a religious observance in Ireland… which meant that all pubs were closed. The day was reclassified in 1970 as a National Holiday… and the pubs were open and the taps have been flowing ever since.
Have a blast this St. Patrick’s Day, raise a pint of Guinness as will I, and Slainte to you all.