St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration that occurs once every year on March 17. Here are some fun facts you may not have known relating to this holiday.
Fact 1: St. Patrick was not born in Ireland.
St. Patrick was born in England near the end of the 4th century according to legend. His given name was not Patrick, but Maewyn and his father, Calphurnius, was a deacon in a Roman Catholic Church. St. Patrick came from a fairly well-to-do family. Despite his father’s position within the church, St. Patrick did not have a religious upbringing. When he was around 16-years-old, it is believed he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and sold as a slave in Ireland to a Celtic priest. Six years later, he returned to England and, after that, he traveled back to Ireland as a Christian missionary.
Fact 2: Shamrocks are important to Irish tradition.
The shamrock is one of the primary symbols that represents St. Patrick’s Day. It has three leaves, not four. The Celts call it a seamroy, and it symbolized the beginning of spring. Tradition says that St. Patrick used the shamrock’s three leaves to share with people about the Holy Trinity. However, the shamrock wasn’t always considered good. In the 19th century, a person could be hanged for wearing one as it was considered a symbol of rebellion.
Fact 3: It is believed St. Patrick died on March 17, 461.
By the time of his death, St. Patrick had established Christian buildings such as monasteries and churches. He had also been responsible for several Irish schools being built. According to tradition, St. Patrick heard an angel tell him to return to Saul, England which is where it is believed he died. The Irish came to celebrate the day he died with religious celebrations and festivities.
Fact 4: St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the world.
Once a year on St. Patrick’s Day, people from all over love to celebrate the Irish. The biggest celebration on Earth for this holiday is said to be held in Downpatrick, Ireland, where St. Patrick was buried according to tradition. Montserrat is the only other country in which St. Patrick’s Day is considered an official national holiday. All of the other countries count it as just a fun opportunity to dress up and celebrate. In the United States, the Chicago river is dyed green in honor of the saint and, in Mumbai, India, citizens turn the Gateway to India green.
Interestingly, St. Patrick was originally associated with the color blue. Perhaps it became green because of the importance of the shamrock, or perhaps because green is one of the main colors on the Irish flag. While no explanation is for certain, these are both possible reasons.
As you celebrate St. Patrick’s day this year, I would encourage you to remember the man and as well as enjoy the celebrations in his honor.