Most of you know that St. Patrick ‘s Day is associated with wearing green. Falling on 17th of March, some see the day as an occasion to celebrate, with green beer and other alcoholic beverages.
However, few people really know what they are celebrating or why the holiday is so important.
Check out 7 facts that may help you enjoy as you celebrate this popular holiday this week.
1 St. Patrick wasn’t Irish.
St. Patrick wasn’t born in Ireland. Infact Patrick’s parents were Roman citizens living in modern-day England, or more specifically in Scotland or Wales (scholars have not agree on which). St. Patrick was born in 385 AD and by that time, most Romans were Christian. The Christian religion was then spreading rapidly across Europe.
2. St. Patrick was a slave.
At the age of 16, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders who later sold him as a slave. He did spend several years in Ireland herding sheep and learning about the people there. At the age of 22, he escaped. He found his way to a monastery in England where he spent 12 years growing closer to God.
3. St. Patrick used the shamrock to preach about the trinity.
Many have claimed that the shamrock represents faith, hope, and love, or many other things but it was really used by Patrick to teach the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and how three holy things, the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit could be separate entities, yet still the same. Apparently, the pagan rulers of Ireland found Patrick to be quite convincing that they quickly converted to Christianity.
4. Legend says St. Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland.
According to legend, St. Patrick drove snakes, or “toads,” out of Ireland. But the truth is this possibly did not occur, because there is no evidence of snakes ever existing in Ireland, the climate there is too cool for them to thrive. Therefore the term “snakes” may be figurative and it may refer to pagan religious beliefs rather than reptiles or amphibians.
5. Patrick’s colour is blue.
Did you know the original colour associated with St. Patrick is blue, not green as is commonly believed? Several artworks depicting Patrick, shows him wearing blue vestments. King Henry VIII also used the Irish harp in gold on a blue flag to represent the kingdom. Since that time, colour blue has been a popular colour to represent the country on flags, coats-of-arms, or even sports jerseys.
Green was then associated with the country later, most probably because of the greenness of the countryside; this is because Ireland receives plentiful rainfall. Today, Ireland is also known as the “Emerald Isle.”
6. The Shamrock is not the symbol of Ireland.
The shamrock is a popular Irish symbol, but not the symbol of Ireland. During the medieval period, the harp has always appeared on manuscripts and Irish gravestones. Nevertheless, it is certain the harp was more popular in Irish legend and culture even well before that period.
7. St. Patrick’s was a dry holiday in Ireland until 1970.
Aside from the colour green, the activity most associated with St. Patrick’s Day is drinking. Still, the Irish law, 1903 – 1970, declared St. Patrick’s Day a religious observance for the entire nation meaning all pubs were closed for the day. This meant no beer, not even the green kind, for public celebrants. The law was eventually overturned in 1970, when St. Patrick’s was reclassified as a national holiday, allowing the taps to flow freely once again.