Ever wonder where the crazy spectacle that is Saint Patrick’s Day originated from? We did, too…and what we found was that most of the miracles attributed to Saint Patrick are actually completely unfounded. So, as the party commences around the globe, let’s look at a few of the myths surrounding this feel-good holiday and how it all got started.
1. Who is Saint Patrick Anyway? — Ask any devout Catholic…they know. While formally referred to as the Patron Saint of Ireland, good old St. Pat was actually Welsh in origin. He was captured by pagans in the 5th century and held as a slave for over six years. He made a triumphant return to Ireland later as a Catholic missionary. His mission was a raging success. To this day, Ireland’s population is 88% Catholic.
2. So What’s With the Snakes? — A common myth about St. Patrick is that he won acclaim by kicking all the snakes out of Ireland. Of course, this myth propagates the idea that snakes were a major problem in Ireland before then. Herpetologists say that this is untrue; snakes never were in Ireland to begin with. The climate there actually repels snakes from wanting to go there. Historians now thing that when the myth said snakes, they really meant Druid priests.
3. And Leprechauns? — Yeah, leprechauns are cool and all, but no one really knows how this grew to its current popularity. The original appearance of leprechauns in Irish history dates back to the Danes’ invasion of Ireland. According to the myth, leprechauns guarded the Danes’ wealth. In reality, the leprechauns appear to be nothing more than a fictional creation that went viral pre-Internet style.
4. Everyone in Ireland Has Red Hair? — Not exactly. Another myth. In reality, about 10% of the Irish population has red hair, which is about average for any nation.
5. Guinness Brewery Full of Rats — There’s a story that has made the urban legends for years upon years that health inspectors found drowned rats in vats where Guinness beer is prepared. This couldn’t be any more false. It simply never happened, and was quite possibly started by a jealous rogue competitor.
6. So What’s Up With the Shamrock? — Good old St. Patrick was apparently fond of clovers and used their three leaves as a symbol of the Holy Trinity. The legend of the four-leaf clover took off on its own, much like leprechauns.
7. The Irish Knew About September 11th — It’s true, some conspiracy circles say that Ireland was aware that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were going to happen. The reason? Only one Irish citizen died in the attack, and four others were among the first to leave the wreckage unscathed. Jury is out on this one, but other than the sheer numbers, there is no evidence to support this theory whatsoever.
So, there you have it…as you enjoy your green beverage of choice this Saint Patrick’s Day, you’ll now be ready to dispel some of the myths and conspiracy theories concerning one of the least understood holidays in the world. Cheers.