St. Patrick’s Day is one of those holidays that’s a lot of fun to celebrate, but not too many people know the history of it. It’s never a bad time to learn something new, so here’s a few interesting facts about St. Patrick’s Day that you can impress your friends with while you try to pinch every poor soul not wearing green!
St. Patrick? Who?
Basically, the history of St. Patrick starts with his life at a Romano-British Christian missionary in Ireland in the fourth century. He grew up in a wealthy family, with his father and grandfather being a deacon and a priest respectively in the Christian church. While he was working as a shepherd, he “found God”, became a priest and dedicated his life to evangelism and converting the pagan Irish to the Christian faith.
His Life Was Pretty Crazy
Get this: At the still-pretty-young age of 14, St. Patrick was kidnapped by pirates, and then forced to work as a slave in Gaelic Ireland. I know most preteens have it rough these days, with their Snapchatting and whatnot, but imagine being yanked from your bed by pirates and taken somewhere against your will! When he turned twenty, he was returned home by a bunch of nice sailors, so it got a little better for him.
So What’s With All The Leprechauns?
Those tiny creatures that hide in the grass and protect their pots of gold are actually a huge part of Irish folklore. According to Irish legends, leprechauns spend most of their time making and mending shoes. Taking that into account, it’s easy to see why they’re so concerned with protecting their gold! I know about one who’s pretty harsh about protecting his cereal, so you can imagine what the rest of them must be like!
So Why Do We Pinch People?
The best (or worst) part of St. Patrick’s Day for schoolchildren is the fact that you run around pinching your friends all day. But why do we do it? Well, it turns out that there are a couple of reasons. One is ridiculous and the other pretty serious.
Going back to leprechauns, the little guys would protect their pots of gold by—you guessed it—pinching their victims. Additionally, in 19th century New York City, wearing green became a symbol of national pride for many Irish people living in America. During important events like St. Patrick’s Day parades and elections when politicians would pay visits to the Irish communities to gain their support, American Irish were expected to wear green in a show of solidarity with their peers. If you didn’t, you were pinched for your lack of Irish pride. It was like a way of saying, “Shame on you!”
What’s The Deal With Shamrocks?
You know those three-leafed clovers you see everywhere? Legend has it that St. Patrick would pluck them from the ground and use them to explain the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) when he was teaching the gospel. Handy!
Not bad, huh? Now you’ll be prepared for all the questions you’re bound to get about St. Patty’s Day. Your history lesson is now complete, and there’s a lot more to come. Just don’t forget to wear green!