The story behind St. Patrick’s Day

Rachel Young and Alexia Sanchez

People think St. Patrick’s Day is just leprechauns, pinching, and wearing green, but the traditions go way back to St. Patrick himself. Mar. 17 is a day celebrated internationally that started as a religious and cultural celebration honoring the patron saint of Ireland. Irish pride is now celebrated while the holiday was originally tied to religious ideals. 

   St. Patrick was not born in Ireland but in Britain. There is controversy surrounding whether or not he was actually kidnapped by pirates at the age of 16 and taken to Ireland to be a slave where he was for six years before he finally escaped to France. He later went back to spread Christianity to the Irish. “He had a dream that the Irish were crying for him that they needed him,”  Elizabeth Stack said in an article by “USA TODAY”. “He returns to Ireland and brings Christianity with him. He is who made the Celts and the pagans into Christians.”  

   “It’s about the Irish people and something to do with their religion,” said freshmen, Cya Smith. 

   A legend exists that St. Patrick drove snakes out of Ireland, but according to Stack, the snakes were a symbol for pagans because snakes can’t handle the climate in Ireland and are not native to Ireland. According to a National Museum of Ireland spokesperson, when the last ice age ended, many of the plants and animals began to recolonize Ireland. As the ice started to melt, sea levels rose which caused Ireland to be cut off from Britain and the rest of Europe. “Many species, which are found in Britain and the rest of Europe, never made it to Ireland,” the spokesperson said. “To this day we have a much more restricted variety of species in Ireland than even in our nearest neighbors in Britain. So while there are a small number of snake species in Britain, there are none in Ireland.” 

   “The origin of St. Patrick’s Day probably has something to do with an Irish religion,” Kaiden Ring-Bradley, a high school freshman at DHS, said  “I do not celebrate in any other way than wearing green”

   The use of the shamrock started because St. Patrick used the three leaves to explain the holy trinity. Each leaf being used to represent the father, son, and the holy spirit. He used simple explanations to convert nonbelievers to Christianity. The three leaves of a shamrock are also said to represent faith, hope, and love. Luck comes in when there is a four-leafed clover. The fourth leaf is meant to represent luck. 

   Leprechauns are widely associated with St. Patrick’s Day. Their roots probably began in Celtic belief in fairies and other mythical creatures. They were said to be grouchy and stubborn, and their jobs were to repair the shoes of other fairies. Leprechauns were known for their mischievous sides, and guarding treasure. Because both St. Patrick’s Day and Leprechauns stem from Ireland, people often group them together. 

   “Aren’t there those like leprechaun things?” said freshmen, Katie Foote. 

   In the past, some people thought wearing green made them invisible to leprechauns. Leprechauns were known to pinch anyone they could see. Wearing green became a tradition so people wouldn’t be pinched and that has carried on over to today.

   In today’s world, people all around the globe celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Wearing green, drinking, and celebrating Irish pride are some of the modern ways people celebrate. Knowing where these traditions come from is very important in understanding a holiday, and being more connected to the past and Irish history.