St. Patrick’s day, the day people pretend to be Irish, is a beloved holiday to many, but what’s the story behind all the green?
Did you know St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish? Although he wasn’t born Irish, St. Patrick was considered the patron saint of Ireland. He became a huge part of Irish heritage due to his services throughout Ireland in the 5th century.
Born in the later half of the 4th century, Patrick had a normal childhood. That is, until he was kidnapped by pirates and sold in slavery in Ireland. He was there for a total of six years and spent most of the time imprisoned. It was there that he is said to have experienced God, and legend states that because of this he was able to escape on a getaway ship.
After his escape, Patrick joined a monastery in France and studied there for 12 years. After becoming a bishop, he had a dream that he needed to go back to Ireland and tell people about God. Patrick was quite successful at winning converts. Through active preaching, he made important converts among the royal families. Patrick was arrested several times, as it upset the Celtic Druids, but escaped each time. For 20 years he had traveled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country. He also set up schools and churches which would aid him in his conversion. He developed a native clergy, fostered the growth of monasticism, established dioceses, and held church councils.
By the end of the 7th century Patrick had become a legendary figure and the legends continue today. Ever wonder why shamrocks are a symbol of St. Patrick’s day? It is said that he used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the concept of the Trinity; which refers to the combination of Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, hence its strong association with his day and name. There also is a legend that Patrick put the curse of God on venomous snakes in Ireland, forcing them into the sea where they drowned.
True, these are mostly legends. But, after some 1500 years, these legends have been inseparably combined with the facts, and together they have helped us know much about the Saint and the spirit behind celebration of the day.
Although it was originally a Catholic holiday, it has become a much more secular holiday. The St. Patrick’s day that we know today has become a day filled with leprechauns, shamrocks, pots of gold, and lots and lots of green!