Something to Think About

"I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Monday, March 11, 2013

5 Myths and Facts about St Patrick

St Patrick's Day is held on March 17th and is coming up this week! 

I'm not Irish myself (as far as I know) but I generally wear green on St Patrick's Day anyway!  Green is my favorite color so it doesn't usually cause too much of a problem for me.  Besides, I understand that one is likely to be pinched if caught not wearing green so it is best to go along with the tradition, in my opinion.

In light of the upcoming holiday, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the information about St. Patrick, himself, and the holiday bearing his name and see what is fact and what is fiction.
  1. St. Patrick was Irish.  Sounds like a no-brainer but actually... no.  He was born in Britain.  When he was 16, he was kidnapped and shipped to Ireland to tend sheep as a slave. He escaped 6 years later and returned home only to return to Ireland later in his life as a bishop.
  2. St Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland.  Well, there are no snakes in Ireland but... there never were.  Remember that Ireland is an island so there would be no way for snakes to migrate to it! This, too, is a myth.
  3. The first St Patrick's Day parade was held in the United States.  This one is actually true!! St Patrick's Day was a minor religious holiday in Ireland.  Generally, a family would have a small feast to celebrate but that was the extent of it.  The first parade was held in 1762 in New York City and they have spread all across the US. The parades are held more to celebrate Irish ancestry rather than to commemorate St Patrick, himself.  The holiday became much more of a celebration in Ireland once they realized how popular it was here in the US. The Irish soon realized they could increase spring tourism if they had more of a celebration themselves.
  4. It's customary to wear green in the US on St. Patrick's Day but that color is considered unlucky in Ireland.  This is true! It is thought to be the favorite color of "The Good People" (faeries) and superstitious people believe that a person is likely to be kidnapped if they wear too much of it.
  5. St Patrick used the shamrock to help illustrate the Christian Trinity.  This appears to be true.  He used it to help explain the three person in one god. It's interesting to note that the shamrock was already considered sacred in Ireland because it was thought to represent the triple goddesses in a common pagan religion in that area of the world.
My sources for these facts and myths are National Geographic (here and here) and Wikipedia (here).

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