The Bridge’s Top 5 St. Patrick’s Day Myths

Alex St. Peters
Web Editor/Writer
astpeters@lc.edu

 

1.       That St. Patrick was Irish 

The Patron Saint of Ireland wasn’t even born in Ireland. Patrick was actually born in Roman   Britain around 385 AD. When he was around the age of sixteen he was captured by Irish pirates and forced into slavery in Ireland for six years. Patrick saw his situation as a test of faith from God. During his enslavement, Patrick became extremely devoted to Christianity through constant prayer. He would later escape his captors and return to Britain, where he eventually became a Bishop. Patrick would be ordered by the Pope to go back to Ireland to spread Christianity. This is where Patrick would eventually become the Saint we all know today.

 

 

2.        That St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland 

St. Patrick did not drive all of the snakes out of Ireland. Actually, Ireland has never had any native snake species ever. Why do you ask? Well first off Ireland is an Island and has a 50-mile sea surrounding it from the rest of Europe. Also, the ice age made islands inhabitable to reptiles that need warmth to survive. Around 10,000 years ago as the ice age ended a land bridge was made from Europe to Britain and from Britain to Ireland. No snakes ever migrated to Ireland when the land bridge was available so still to this day Ireland is snake free. The saying that St. Patrick drove all of the snakes out of Ireland is meant to symbolize St. Patrick ridding Ireland of Pagan religion.

 

 

  1.          That St. Patrick’s Day is an Irish holiday

The way we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in America is completely different from the way the Irish celebrate the holiday. St. Patrick’s Day has always been celebrated as Roman Catholic feast, which means church and prayer, in Ireland. If you have ever celebrated St. Patrick’s Day you know none of that happens here in America. In America, on St. Patrick’s Day we eat corned beef and drink too much green beer. Fun fact, the pubs in Ireland were closed every St. Patrick’s Day until the 1970s! Also the first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in New York City in 1762. Ireland wouldn’t get a St. Patrick’s Day parade until 1931.

 

4.          That corned beef is a classic St. Patrick’s Day dish

On St. Patrick’s Day Americans everywhere consume too much corned beef and cabbage because it’s St. Patrick’s Day, ya know? However, traditionally, in Ireland, they eat a type of bacon that is similar to ham. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that Irish immigrants in New York City started eating corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day. This was likely due to many immigrants being poor and that corned beef cost less than bacon.

 

  1.        That St. Patrick used a shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity 

The myth is that St. Patrick used a shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the people of Ireland. It says that he would point at each leaf and identify each as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. However, this is unlikely because there is no proof anywhere that he actually did this. The shamrock is the official symbol of Ireland and that’s how it most likely became associated with St. Patrick’s Day. In the late 17th century the shamrock became a symbol of Irish nationalism, with many Irish people wearing it to show their Irish pride.

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