It’s that time of year again, the Chicago river is running green, drunken Americans are dyeing their insides green with artificially coloured beer and everyone is ‘Oirish’. Yes, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, (or St. Patty’s Day, although we’re not sure where the hamburgers come into it), the most celebrated saint day in the world – so let’s have some St. Patrick themed Top 5 facts!
5. Why it Couldn’t be Snakes!
The myth that St. Patrick chased the snakes from Ireland during his time on Earth is just that. A myth. There is strong evidence suggesting that post-glacial Ireland never had snakes in the first place.
4. St. Patrick’s Day Blues!
Blue was the colour originally associated with the feast day of St. Patrick. In fact, the colour green was long considered to be unlucky in Ireland as it was believed to be the favoured colour of the Good People i.e. fairies, with legend telling that those who wore too much green, especially children, would be spirited away. As an aside, the tradition of pinching someone who is not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day is, you guessed it, an American invention.
3. Pubs in Ireland Closed for St. Paddy’s!
In Ireland, the feast of St. Patrick is a holy day of obligation, meaning that the faithful are obliged to go to mass. Until the 1970’s, all pubs in Ireland were closed by law on St. Patricks Day, which dispels the myth that the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is so the Irish can get steaming drunk. Especially since St. Patrick’s Day falls during the holy month of Lent.
2. First St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Ireland was in 1996!
The tradition of St. Patrick’s Day parades began, not in Ireland, but in the good old US of A. The St. Patrick’s Day festival in Dublin, Ireland was started by the Irish government in 1995 as part of a campaign to use St. Patrick’s Day to highlight Ireland and Irish culture woldwide in a bid to attract tourists. Maybe they were just cashing in on the success of Riverdance at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest? Although secular celebrations now exist in Ireland, the holiday remains a religious observance for both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland.
1. He wasn’t Irish – he was British!
Maewyn Succat was born in southwestern Roman Britain to a relatively wealthy family – other details are sketchy but this much is known. At 16, he was captured and taken to Ireland as a slave where he served for 6 years. During this time, he converted from Paganism to Christianity, taking the baptismal name Patricius. His faith grew during the time he was enslaved, until finally he escaped after hearing a voice telling him he would go home soon. Once he got home, the voice purportedly told him to go back to Ireland, thus he returned as a missionary, converting the Pagans to the newer Christian religion.