St. Patrick might be the patron saint of Ireland but he didn’t always live in Ireland. Patrick was born in Britain in the fourth century and didn’t arrive in Ireland until he was 16 years old  After he arrived in Ireland, Patrick became interested in Christianity and started teaching others about the religion. St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on the day Patrick supposedly died.


St. Patrick was a real person, but some of the traditions associated with him and the holiday are actually myths. For instance, you’ll often see the four-leaf clover on St. Patrick’s Day. However, according to legend, Patrick used a three-leaf clover, or shamrock, as part of his teachings. A four-leaf clover is just considered a symbol of good luck.Another legend says that Patrick chased all the snakes out of Ireland. The problem? These creatures never actually lived in the country. The ocean keeps the critters away.


The fact that Ireland is an island—as well as green with leafy trees and grassy hills—means that the nation is sometimes called the Emerald Isle. But the color that people originally associated with St. Patrick was blue! Green was finally introduced to St. Patrick’s Day festivities in the 18th century, when the shamrock became a national symbol. Because of the shamrock’s popularity and Ireland’s landscape, the color stuck to the holiday.Green is also the color that mythical fairies called leprechauns like to dress in—today, at least. But tales about leprechauns date back to before green was in: The fairies were first described as wearing red.


Leprechauns are actually one reason you’re supposed to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day. The tradition is tied to folklore that says wearing green makes you invisible to leprechauns. Some people also think wearing the color will bring good luck, and others wear it to honor their Irish ancestry. Another tradition includes many Irish-American people in the United States eating corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day. People also gather to watch parades of traditional Irish dancers and musicians as they march through city streets. However you celebrate, here’s hoping it’s a lucky day!

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Madison Senior Center and a link back to the original post.