St. Patrick’s Day brings out the Irish in all of us, even if it’s technically non-existent. Revelers are flocking to community celebrations and parades all over the globe today, where they'll eat, drink and dance in celebration of Ireland’s patron St. Patrick. However, as we celebrate this year, some of the popular misconceptions regarding his life are in the news today, as reported by ABC.
First, St. Patrick was not Irish. His birth name was actually Maewyn Succat, and it wasn't until he was in the Church that it was changed to Patricius, or Patrick. Technically, St. Patrick the Apostle of Ireland, was born in Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, which is in Scotland.
St. Patrick was kidnapped when he was a teenager by Irish raiders and enslaved as a shepherd for several years. He credited his faith in God with his ability to persevere in the face of adversity.
Second, in spite of popular belief, St. Patrick did not drive the snakes out of Ireland. As “icy water” surrounds the Emerald Isle, this prevented snakes from migrating there, so there were never any snakes in Ireland to begin with.
Third, although Green may be Ireland’s national color, blue is the color most commonly associated with St. Patrick. The Order of St. Patrick was established in 1783 as, “the senior order of chivalry in the Kingdom of Ireland”.
In order to differentiate it from the Order of the Garter, dark blue, and the Order of the Thistle, which was green, they went with blue.
Fourth, the tradition of holding a parade to honor St. Patrick's Day was born in the United States, not Ireland. Though the Irish have been celebrating the feast of St. Patrick dating back to the ninth century, the first recorded parade anywhere occurred in Boston in 1737.
Ireland didn’t start their own parade tradition until 1931, in Dublin. Even today, 18 out of the 20 largest St. Patrick's Day parades are in the U.S., with New York City’s being the largest.
Finally, St. Patrick used a three-leafed shamrock in explaining the Holy Trinity to pagan Irish, thus forever linking the shamrock with him and the Irish in the popular culture. St. Patrick was known to tie the shamrocks to his robes, which is how the color green is became associated with him.
Ultimately, according to the Mirror, not much else is known about Ireland's apostle, who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. The only generally accepted details of his life are derived from two authentic surviving letters from him.
The Confessio, a spiritual autobiography, and his Epistola, a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish Christians are those documents, which tell of St. Patrick being born in the fourth century into a wealthy family in “Roman” Britain.
His father was said to be a deacon and his grandfather was a priest. When he was taken at age 16, he was held for six years before escaping and returning home where he studied to become a priest.
St. Patrick returned to Ireland in 432 as an ordained bishop where he taught the Irish about Christianity. He died on March 17, 461. His feast day has since been celebrated on the anniversary of his death.