St Patrick’s Day is on March 17th. It honours St Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, who died on this date about 461 A.D. Patrick was born in Wales but was captured by Irish raiders when he was about 16 years old. He was taken to Ireland, where he spent the next 4 years working as a slave minding sheep on the side of a mountain. He became very religious during this time and after 6 years, he heard God’s voice telling him it was time to leave Ireland. He went back home and spent years studying to become a priest. He then had a vision from God telling him to go back to Ireland and preach about Christianity to the Irish. At this time in Ireland, most people didn’t have a religion and so Patrick told them about God. He spent the next 30 years spreading the Christian faith and building churches all around Ireland. It is said he used the shamrock to explain the concept of the holy trinity to the Irish. Showing people the three leafed clover he explained that God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were three parts of the same divinity. Many people believe this is how shamrocks came to be identified with St Patrick as well as Ireland, becoming its national symbol.
Saint Patrick and the Snakes:
St Patrick is said to have driven the snakes out of Ireland.
Different versions of the story, tell of him standing upon a hill, using a wooden staff to drive the serpents into the sea, banishing them forever from Ireland.
One version says that an old serpent resisted banishment, but Patrick tricked him. Patrick made a box and invited the snake to enter. The snake insisted it was too small and the two argued. Finally to prove his point, the snake entered the box to show how tight the fit was. Patrick slammed the lid closed and threw the box into the sea.
Shamrocks, Leprechauns, Irish jigs, the Irish harp, the Irish flag, and pots of gold at the end of the rainbow are all symbols of Ireland and its national day.