According to an article called History of St. Patrick’s Day, on www.theholidayspot.com and also an article entitled Shamrocks for St. Patrick on www.riverdeep.net, St. Patrick is known to be the patron Saint of Ireland. He was not born Irish at all, but has become a very important part of Irish heritage. Although there are many differing opinions on where and when he was actually born, it is known that he was born in the late half of the 4th century. It is believed that his real name is not Patrick at all, but Maewyn Succat. Patrick was simply a name that people gave him.
It is also known that he was the son of a Roman-British army officer by the name of Calpurnius. He began his life in Britain. When he was young, he lived a normal life not unlike the other children of his time. It is believed that he was kidnapped by a band of pirates along with many other children, and sold into slavery in Ireland. For over six years, he was imprisoned.
During his imprisonment, he dreamed of seeing God; legend has it that God told him how to escape his life of imprisonment. When he did finally escape, he first went to Britain, then France. He joined a monastery and studied under a man named St. Germain who was the bishop of Auxerre. St. Patrick spent twelve years training under St. Germain before he, himself became a bishop. Then, he began to dream that Ireland was calling him back to spread the word of God and teach them all he knew. He went back to Ireland with the blessing of the Pope and once in Ireland, he converted the Gaelic Irish from Paganism to Christianity. He would commonly take gifts to the royals and lawmen, but he would never accept any gifts himself.
St. Patrick was arrested several times throughout the 20 years he traveled throughout Ireland doing his work for the Lord. He was arrested because the Celtic Druids were unhappy with him converting so many people to Christianity. Each time he was arrested, he escaped and went on to do more work. He established monasteries all across Ireland as well as churches and schools that helped him convert people to Christianity.
St. Patrick died on March 17, 461. This is the day we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The idea of the day is to celebrate the universal baptism of Ireland. It is originally a Catholic holiday, but has become for of a holiday for all, and is often known as “Irish Day”. St. Patrick left behind many letters and documentations of his work. By the end of the 7th century, long after his time on Earth came to an end, he became a legend for all he did.
There are many legends that are associated with St. Patrick’s Day. They have derived from different beliefs. Some hold truth while others are only legend, but they all come together to make St. Patrick’s Day celebrations what they are today. The following lengends and facts come from www.riverdeep.net and www.theholidayspot.com.
The shamrock is said to be what St. Patrick used to explain the concept of Trinity; meaning the combination of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. It is said that he picked a shamrock that was growing by his feet. It is also believed that the wearing of the shamrock was to represent the cross. This is the reason that the shamrock is a big part of St. Patrick’s Day today.
The four-leaf clover was believed by the Druids to help a person spot a witch or demon. In modern day, the four-leaf clover is said to release energy and help a person with their judgment. Others believe that the four-leaf clover brings good luck and fortune to the one who holds it, and not only on St. Patrick’s Day, but all year long. A four-leaf clover is a rare find because normally, a clover leaf has only three parts. Scientists believe that if a young clover-leaf is exposed to certain chemicals, it mutates and develops the fourth segment.
The color green represents Ireland as a whole, the shamrock, and spring. It represents Ireland because Ireland is commonly known as Emerald Isle. The color green can be seen all over on St. Patrick’s Day. Both Irish and non-Irish people wear green to celebrate the day.
The Blarney Stone is another common symbol of St. Patrick’s Day. The Blarney Stone is a stone that is in the walls of the tower in the Blarney Castle. Legend has it that an old woman cast a spell on the stone to reward a king for saving the life of a person who was drowning. When the king was under the spell, he was able to speak eloquently, so, according to legend, if a person kisses the Blarney Stone, they are able to be persuasively eloquent. The word “blarney” means “persuasive eloquence”.
The leprechaun is said to be an Irish fairy that can avoids contact with humans, other fairies, and even other leprechauns. It is said that there are no female leprechauns at all. They are believed to be two-feet tall, and spend their time making shoes for other fairies. They are said to wear a green hat, a greet coat, and a shoemaker-s apron. Leprechauns are trusted to guard fairy treasures and hide their pots of gold because they are very thrift. The belief is that rainbows and the sounds of a shoemaker’s hammer give humans clues as to where the pots of gold are hidden, as well as to where the leprechauns are.
Legend says that if you catch a leprechaun, you can force him to tell you where his treasures are hidden, but, if you look away from the leprechaun for even a second; he will disappear and take his treasures with him. Leprechauns will try to trick you to look away so they can escape with their treasures.
Throughout the years, the lines between legend and fact have become undistinguishable. No one alive today knows the entire truth, but those facts and legends have come together and helped us all understand the reason for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.