In honor of the great St. Patrick, I have found this history lesson from a few years ago. Enjoy!
Today is St. Patrick’s Day, the day where everyone gets to pretend their Irish, green food and drinks are permissible, and you can pinch a coworker without expecting extensive legal action.
Or course, like most holidays, no one has the slightest idea what St. Patrick’s Day is really all about. Unlike Christmas, Charles Schultz didn’t even make a special explaining what it was really all about, so until someone produces “It’s a Called A Shamrock, Charlie Brown!” (those kids exclaimed a lot), someone will need to fill the holiday knowledge void.
Fortunately, I have internet access, so I can tell you what it’s all about.
The story of St. Patrick, then just Patrick, began on a cold dreary day in fourth century Britain. I am, of course, assuming it was cold and dreary based on all movies and tv shows set in Britain.
In the fourth century, the human life expectancy was not very long, so on his 16th birthday, Patrick had a severe midlife crisis. Not sure what to do with himself, he signed up to go to Ireland as a slave. By signed up, I, of course, mean the Irish raiders kidnapped him.
After years of toiling away on the potato farms in Ireland, Patrick had a dream. It went something like this:
“Who is that?”
“Uh, me who?”
“First off, it’s whom. Or is it who? Whom? Man, that’s tricky. Secondly, it’s God. I’m God.”
“Oh. Cool. So what’s going on?”
“Well, you know how you’re a slave?”
“I am very aware, yes.”
“Why don’t you just run away?”
“Can I do that?”
“I’m God. Do you think I’d give you bad advice? Come on.”
“Sorry God. I forgot about that. What will I do when I run away?”
“Go back home to England.”
“On a boat. How else would you get there? The plane isn’t going to be invented for 1500 years, and you can’t very well walk across the Irish Sea, now can you?”
“No. That’s kind of your thing.”
“Darn right, it is.”
So when Patrick returned to England, he became a priest. And what a priestly priest he was. He began to evangelize, converting people left and right, until he was bored with the whole English conversion scene.
Patrick wondered what to do to get his priestly groove back. He thought back and remembered his glorious days in slavery, digging potatoes in the Irish countryside.
So, Patrick returned to Ireland. He quickly found the Irish were not as receptive to his message. To get through to them, he would need props, but, unfortunately, he had left his prop case back in England. Fortunately, Ireland was wrought with three leaf clovers and leprechauns. After realizing the leprechauns wouldn’t work with him (they were paranoid he was after their gold), he decided to use the clover to convert the Irish heathens.
Using this clover to explain the Holy Trinity for the next 30 years, Patrick was finally able to make the Irish people understand. They carried him on their shoulders as sort of a victory celebration. Unfortunately, they were very drunk, so their coordination was off and they dropped Patrick.
They buried Patrick in Downpatrick, a tradition of some sort. They then swore to celebrate Patrick every March by making their most sacred of possessions, alcohol, green, just like the clover Patrick loved so much. Years later, the Irish would take it one step further honoring Patrick by making him the patron saint of Ireland.
That is why we have parades today. To honor the former slave turned priest. Also, people really like parades. That may actually have a little bit more to do with it.
Nevertheless, we shall never forget St. Patrick, for without him, there would be no day where pinching people was considered acceptable.