The Ancient Pirates of St. Patrick’s Day

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Mason Longhurst, Staff Writer

Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17. While this holiday may seem crazy and random, it actually has a lot of history behind it. Here are some more fun facts and legends about Saint Patrick’s Day.

Saint Patrick was probably Roman.

Saint Patrick was born in the British Isles sometime around 390 A.D. At this time, the Romans had conquered most of the British Isles, which means that Patrick was probably of Roman descent. However, it is unsure whether his parents, who were once thought to be Roman aristocracy, were actually from the Italian peninsula or were Celtic. However, early stories say that Patrick signed his name Patricius when he was young.

Saint Patrick was captured by pirates when he was 16.

According to the legends of Saint Patrick, his town was attacked by Irish Raiders when Patrick was 16. Patrick was taken back to the Emerald Isle and sold into slavery for six years. While most historians agree that this actually happened, there is some argument as to where he served. Patrick was probably kept in County Mayo, which is near Killala.

Saint Patrick would escape slavery, only to return to Ireland years later.

According to his writings, Saint Patrick received a revelation that commanded him to escape slavery and reach the ocean. To do this, Patrick had to walk 200 miles from County Mayo to the sea. After he had escaped to England, Patrick received another message that he needed to return to Ireland as a missionary. Patrick spent fifteen years studying Christianity, then returned to Ireland.

The Banishing of Snakes

Though many legends and tales survive from the life of Saint Patrick, very few are as renowned as the story of Saint Patrick banishing snakes from Ireland. According to legend, Saint Patrick chased all the snakes from Ireland after the serpents attacked him on a hill during a forty-day fast. Ireland is one of a handful of places that remains snake-free today. Most modern-day scholars, however, believe that there have not been snakes on the Emerald Isle since the last Ice Age. Instead, they believe that this legend is an allegory of how St. Patrick spread Christianity and began the eradication of pagan ideology.

The Teachings of Saint Patrick

Familiar with the traditions and religion of Ireland, Saint Patrick was able to customize the teachings of Christianity to make sense to the people. Patrick used the famed three-leaf clover as a comparison to the Godhead. To reflect the nature-based religion of most Irish, Patrick celebrated Easter by lighting bonfires and incorporated the sun into many religious symbols, most famously the Irish Cross.

Saint Patrick’s Day fun facts.

Saint Patrick died March 17, around the year 460 A.D. He is considered the Patron Saint of Ireland, even though he was never technically made a saint. Even though the holiday is famed for its green hue, Saint Patrick and his followers actually wore a color called “St. Patrick’s Blue”.

And WHAT in the WORLD do leprechauns have to do with St. Patrick?

Leprechauns have very little to do with Saint Patrick. They were small fairies in Irish folklore who were known for their trickery. They were very minor characters in Irish fairy tales, mostly known for repairing shoes for other fairies and being very grumpy. Leprechauns, called lobaircin in Irish stories, have their own holiday on March 13, but are celebrated more widely on St. Patrick’s Day.