Happy St. Patrick's Day! Obviously this St. Paddy's Day is going to be a lot different than prior years for most of us. But...reading isn't cancelled, and I'm trying to come up with things to learn while trapped inside. So today I'm dedicating this blog post to some facts about St. Patrick and his holiday.
As a teenager, Patrick was captured by Irish pirates and taken from his home country of Great Britain to Ireland as a slave. A rough start, for sure, but although he escaped after six years and returned home, eventually he went back to Ireland as a cleric. The exact dates of his life are uncertain, but it is generally agreed that Patrick was an active missionary in Ireland during the second half of the 5th century. He was also an ordained Bishop and eventually became the primary patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick's Day became an official Christian Feast Day in the early 17th century, observed on March 17th, the date of Patrick's death.
The day not only commemorates St. Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, it also celebrates Irish culture and heritage. There are (usually!) parades and festivals to mark the occasion, as well as religious services. Because the church lifts Lenten restrictions for the day, drinking alcohol has become a custom associated with St. Patrick's Day.
The shamrock as a symbol comes from legends involving St. Patrick using the three-leafed plant to describe the Holy Trinity--the concept of three persons in one God. Obviously, shamrocks are green, but the phrase "The Wearing of the Green" comes from an Irish ballad of the same name. The song refers to the persecution of those who supported the 1798 rebellion against British rule. The lyrics state, "They are hanging men and women for the wearing of the green" - the color adopted by the revolutionary United Irishmen.
Some stories credit St. Patrick with driving all the snakes from Ireland; however, all scientific evidence suggests no snakes ever existed on the Emerald Isle to begin with. Another legend related to a serpent involves St. Patrick killing a large serpent in a lake, thus turning the water red with blood and creating the name "Red Lake" or Lough Derg. It is said that God showed St. Patrick a cave or pit on an island in the lake, revealing the spot as an entrance to Purgatory. St. Patrick's Purgatory is now an ancient pilgrimage site which still draws pilgrims annually.
Upon his death, the struggle over possession of the saintly corpse gave rise to the Battle for the Body of St. Patrick (according to the Annals of the Four Masters - chronicles of medieval Irish history). He is said to be buried along with St. Brigid and St. Columbia at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County Down, but this has never been proven.
Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day, and thanks for stopping by. If you are looking for more things to stay entertained and reading is your passion, I hope you'll check out my books! I write romantic suspense mixed with ghost mysteries, #1 Amazon and B&N Bestsellers and USA Today Bestsellers. My seventh novel, Ghost Moon, is now up for pre-order, but there are six others ready to go...my Amazon author page can be found here. Happy Reading!