Every year on March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day. Not only is it celebrated in Ireland, but in the U.S., UK, Australia, South America, and now other parts of the world. Many people are familiar with wearing green, drinking green beer, attending St. Patrick’s Day parades, and other activities. There is a lot more to this holiday than meets the eye. Find out more from these seven facts and trivia surrounding the myths and legends of St. Patrick. You’ll get a greater insight into the other associations of this Irish celebration.
The Man Called St. Patrick
St. Patrick, or his given name of Maewyn, was born in Great Britain (in which country scholars cannot agree upon) and not in Ireland. At age 16 he was kidnapped by Irish rebels and brought to Ireland. He later escaped to France and then made his way back to Britain. It was there he had a vision to build churches and spread Christianity to those in Ireland. That’s how he became Ireland’s patron saint.
Blue vs. Green
Oddly enough the original color of St. Patrick is blue. In many ancient artworks you’ll find the color blue associated with this saint wearing blue vestments. Blue was a very popular color for flags, banners, and coat of arms. The color green is more directed to the country of Ireland for its vividly green countryside. It’s also known as the “Emerald Isle.”
Behind the Shamrock
The shamrock is no doubt automatically associated with Ireland, though it’s not the symbol of that country. It’s actually the harp, which has been representative since medieval times. The harp has been used as a symbol for Ireland’s struggle for freedom. St. Patrick did use the shamrock (a three-leaved clover) to preach on the Holy Trinity of the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.
No Snakes in Ireland
One of the most common myths about St. Patrick is he drove the snakes out of Ireland. There’s only one problem, Ireland does not and did not have snakes. The climate is too cold for these reptiles. What’s likely behind St. Patrick’s legend is its symbol for driving out pagan religions in Ireland
Let’s Have a Parade
In the U.S. several major cities such as New York City, Boston, and Chicago hold annual St. Patrick’s Day parades. The one in New York City is considered the longest running civilian parade in the world. In 1762 was the first official parade during colonial times with Irish immigrants marching in the British colonial army.
No Drinking on St. Pat’s Day
Up until the 1970s all pubs were closed on St. Patrick’s Day as it was a religious holiday. Now there are countless pubs, bars, restaurants, etc. serving green beer and other beverages on March 17th. A popular cheer many revelers will state is the Irish phrase “Slainte!” (pronounced SLAN-cha) meaning “health.”
Finding a Four-Leaf Clover
A four-leaf clover is an aberration of a three leaf clover plant called the “white clover.” It’s considered the original shamrock plant. They are hard to find with odds being 10,000 to 1.