By: Anna Dory
Who is this Saint Patrick guy? And why do we wear green and get drunk in his name? Saint Patrick was born around AD 415 in England and was actually kidnapped by pirates and brought to Ireland as a slave! It was during his time as a slave that he converted to Christianity. Then one night, he heard a divine voice urging him to leave his master and go to a boat that awaited him in the harbor. This voice must have been convincing because he ran away and was, in fact, able to hitch a ride back to England where he studied for 12 years at a monastery.
While studying at the monastery he adopted his Christian name "Patricius" or Patrick as we all know it today, before that his name was "Maewyn Succat" not nearly at easy on the tongue as Patrick.
He returned to Ireland and devoted the rest of his life to converting pagans to Christianity. He built schools and churches across the country and become widely admired during his time. Legends formed around him such as "he drove the snakes out of Ireland"; there are no records of snakes ever being in Ireland so the word "snakes" could be a metaphor for "pagans" but who knows. That being said, not everyone was a fan of this Saint. The pagans got him thrown in jail a few times but he was always able to escape.
All in all, this saint sounds like quite a G--I mean he escaped slavery, hitched-hiked home on a boat, changed his name and returned to a country that enslaved him to spread the world of his god in the hopes of saving and liberating Ireland. Talk about forgiveness and bravery. Oh and on top of that, he escaped jail not once, not twice, but multiple times. Houdini's got nothing on this guy!
Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated on the day he died March 17; it is a religious holiday set aside to commemorate all that Saint Patrick did for Ireland.
Not only this, it became a day for American Irish immigrants who had, or chose to leave their homes in Ireland for a new life in America to celebrate and remember their heritage. Irish American immigrants faced extreme prejudice and discrimination for many years when they first began to build a presence in the States. They used March 17th as a day to come together and be proud and happy of who they were and where they came from. This idea stuck and to this day hundreds of Irish-Americans, Irish and non-Irish, religious and non-religious people come together to drink and be merry.
My favorite fact that didn't make it into this article is, that it was mandatory for all pubs to close down on Saint Patrick's day in Ireland until 1970! It is a religious holiday after all :)