Everyone’s favorite excuse to drink green beer is almost here: St. Paddy’s Day. A holiday characterized by red-headed leprechauns, wearing green to avoid pinching and four-leaf clovers is actually a religious holiday. So while you’re out drinking and enjoying the green Chicago river, you can school your friends in the reason for this season.
Patrick actually wasn’t born an Irishman. He was captured by Irish pirates from his home in Roman Britain at age 14 and taken to Ireland where he herded sheep as a slave for most of his teen years. At 20, Patrick escaped captivity and returned to his family in Britain where he studied the priesthood.
Sometime later, Patrick had a vision in which a man brought him a letter from the voice of Ireland. He was ordained as a bishop and returned to the land that had enslaved him for much of his life.
This comes from the fact that Patrick often used shamrocks to teach about the holy trinity. The idea is that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are all separate beings that are also all one entity, like the THREE separate leaves of one shamrock. So where does the lucky four-leaf clover shtick come from? It’s kind of unclear. They are very rare – about 1 in 10,000 – but sources differ on where the superstition began. Some say that when Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, she took a four-leaf clover with her to remind herself of paradise. Since then, it’s come to symbolize good fortune.
But the connection to this holiday is pretty much non-existent.
Patrick was never canonized by a pope, so his sainthood is technically questionable.
Some legends contend that St. Patrick banished all the snakes from Ireland by chasing them into the sea. However, scientists believe there were never snakes in Ireland at this time because of the frigid waters surrounding the island.
This is St. Patrick’s feast day, commemorating the date he died in 461.
The color representing St. Patrick wasn’t always green – originally it was blue. But, now that it is green, you can pick out a new pair of drawers just in time for the holiday celebration, all while doing your part to feed the world.