Get out your green, St Patrick’s Day is this week. Forget about all of the Easter baskets and bunnies that are on the shelves at the store, it is time for some Leprechauns, limericks, and all other things Irish. In honor of St Patrick’s Day, I decided to learn a little more about the man who is the reason for this great holiday.
St Patrick is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland. Many of the details of St Patrick’s early life are unclear at best. What is known about him is that he was largely responsible for bringing Christianity to Ireland. He was not the only person who did such work, but his efforts are probably the most well known because of his work converting many Pagans into Christians. In fact, the shamrock is a popular symbol of St Patrick’s Day because St Patrick used the plant to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity to the Pagans.
What about the snakes? There are no snakes in Ireland, and legend credits St Patrick with driving them away. A more plausible explanation for the absence of snakes, however, is that Ireland separated off of a larger continent at the end of the Ice Age and no snakes have ever lived there. Serpents were a religious symbol of the Pagans, and the story about St Patrick “driving away the snakes from Ireland” is most likely a symbolic reference to his work converting Pagans to Christians.
St Patrick’s Day began as a religious celebration, a day for offering prayers for missionaries all over the world. Many people still celebrate the religious aspect of St Patrick’s Day by attending Mass before engaging in other festivities like parades and parties. A common way to celebrate St Patrick’s Day is the “wearing of the green”. Whether you put on a green hat, a green shirt, or you go all out and wear green from head to toe is up to you.