Being Irish, I take great pride in a certain holiday on March 17th… St. Patrick’s Day! Growing up I always wore green, so I would not get pinched, and dined on corned beef, and cabbage. I even took time to search for 4 leaf clovers in the grass for luck. Now that another St. Patrick’s Day is approaching, I wanted to share some interesting facts and traditions, and answer the following question: What’s the real story behind Saint Patrick?
The real Saint Patrick wasn’t Irish (gasp!)
Contrary to everything your intuition has taught you, St. Patrick was actually English. He was born in Britain around 350 A.D. and probably lived in Wales.
According to Brad Hawkins, a professor of religious studies who spoke with the Daily Forty-Niner, St. Patrick was kidnapped around the age of 16 and brought to Ireland where he was sold into slavery. He tended sheep for about 10 years before he escaped to England. There he took refuge in a monastery in Gaul for 12 years. That’s where he became a priest, and later took his teachings back to Ireland.
St. Patrick’s Day as we know it – the parades, the fanfare, the dressing up – began in America.
The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, as well as celebrating the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. In the early days of the U.S., Irish Americans who wanted to celebrate their shared identity started St. Patrick’s Day with banquets at elite clubs in cities like Boston, New York and Philadelphia. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in 1762 and was common by the mid-19th century.
Saint Patrick didn’t rid Ireland of snakes.
One legend often associated with St. Patrick is that he drove the snakes out of Ireland during one of his sermons. Legend has it that St. Patrick sent the serpents into the sea, but snakes are not actually found in post-glacial Ireland because of the country’s geographical position.
“It’s admittedly an unlikely tale,” National Geographic writer James Owen notes. “Ireland is one of only a handful of places worldwide—including New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland, and Antarctica—that Indiana Jones and other snake-averse humans can visit without fear.”
The chance that you’ll ever find a four-leaf clover is 1 in 10,000.
The rarity of four-leaf clovers suggests a possible recessive gene that appears very seldom in nature. Those fortunate enough to find a four-leaf clover are said to gain good luck. The shamrock is certainly a popular Irish symbol, but it’s not the symbol of Ireland. The harp was historically associated with the Irish and appears on Irish gravestones and manuscripts.
Corned beef and cabbage isn’t an Irish traditional dish.
A dish of corned beef and cabbage, while delicious, is more American than Irish. According to 9News, the dish is a variation of a traditional Irish meal that included bacon. But because early Irish-Americans were poor, beef was a cheaper alternative, and cabbage happened to be a springtime vegetable.
There are more Irish people living in the U.S. than in Ireland
The population of Ireland is roughly 4.2 million, but there are an estimated 34 million Americans with Irish ancestry. This partly has to do with the potato famine between 1845 and 1852 that had millions of Irish fleeing the country for the U.S.
As you can see, St Patrick’s Day may not be what you thought it was or what society thinks it is. However, you will still find me wearing green and eating corned beef and cabbage on March 17th. This year I will also be celebrating in a very special way because my family and I will be traveling to Ireland on March 16th!
“May your days be many and your troubles be few.
May all God’s blessings descend upon you.
May peace be within you may your heart be strong.
May you find what you’re seeking wherever you roam.”
Miss National Orange Show 2015
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