On the beloved Irish holiday St. Patrick’s Day, many people flock to stores and shops to find the latest and best looking green attire and make-ups. Then it’s off to drink and party the night away. This seems about it for the holiday, but actually there’s a lot that goes into the preparations and a long and unique history hidden deep within it.
Bet you didn’t know that St. Patrick wasn’t actually Irish. He was born in Britain around the 5th century, then he was a part of the Roman empire. When he was sixteen he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and then was held in Ireland for six years in captivity. When he was freed he converted to Christianity and decided to return to Ireland as a Christian Missionary. He later died there- after spending his life in Ireland, on March 17, 461. Many people forgot about him after his death and didn’t pay much mind to his life at all, that is until mythology and legend began growing all circulating around him. Centuries later, because of all the words around him, he was honored as the Patron Saint of Ireland. One of the most famous myths about him was that he drove each and every individual snake from Ireland. The story wasn’t as simple as that though- it was a complex symbolism of Saint Patrick’s cleansing the land of all Paganism. The issue with that story is that Ireland never actually had any snakes to begin with. The Emerald Isle surrounding Ireland is too frigid for snakes to even be able to migrate over there. Another famous story has to do with the widely known shamrock, where he used the three leaves of it to explain the holy trinity (The father, the son, and the holy spirit). As a result of his teachings people in 18th century Ireland began wearing them to signify their Irish-Christian pride. That tradition later turned out and morphed into wearing green clothing altogether which began a popular custom still used today. Actually, shamrock plants don’t actually exist they are commonly seen as three individual plants: wood sorrel, and white and yellow clovers. Celebrating St. Patrick’s day is a large foundation of Ireland, but actually the tradition to throw parades and huge celebrations started in America. The parade hysteria really took off when the great potato famine hit Ireland in the 1840’s. This would later cause hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants rushing over into America for refuge and food. The first ever record of a St. Patrick’s day parade took place in New york in 1762- when a group of Irish soldiers serving with the British marched a few blocks to a tavern in lower manhattan- this is the largest of the parades held now because of that one day.
St. Patrick’s day is a fun filled holiday that most everyone takes part in to dress up and act crazy- but few knew the truth of how the day actually started.