Well, here we are again, March 17, St Patrick's Day. Since I don't care for green beer or corned beef and cabbage, and I look like a lawn in green clothing, I thought I would spend the morning finding out just who Patrick was, and what he did.
Patrick (c. AD 385–461) is the foremost patron saint of Ireland.
Saint Patrick's Day has been an official religious holiday since the early 17th Century. By the way, I used to work with a woman from Ireland, and every March she recoiled in horror at the dissolute way in which Americans guzzle and gobble their way through what is, in Ireland, a very sacred religious holiday.
But that's none of my beeswax. The original point of celebrating Patrick's day was to commemorate the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and shed a light on Irish culture and the goodness of their people. There are parades in many cities, and people wear green clothing and shamrock decorations.
Patrick was born in Britain, in the days of the Roman occupation, and became a missionary in Ireland after being kidnapped as a teenager and taken in slavery to Gaelic Ireland. He was a shepherd there for six years and had a dream in which God told him to flee to the coast, where he would find a ship to take him home.
He did get home and went a seminary, becoming a priest. Later he returned to Ireland and, in his missionary work, led thousands of pagan druids to Christianity.
Remember hearing that "St Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland"? Well, guess what? Ireland never has had native snakes!
The legend was spun that he was in the middle of a 40-day fast and some snakes attacked him, so he chased them into the sea. What he chased away was the paganism, after all.
This legend was likely made up and spread by people who know nothing about snakes, because those of us familiar with slithering reptiles know doggone well they don't respond to being chased or even to being hollered at (no ears).
Scientists figure that it was the most recent Ice Age that froze the snakes out of Ireland.
But Patrick died on this day, March 17, 461, and is recognized for what he did do - bringing modern Christianity to a pagan land - as much as for what he didn't do - driving snakes away.
Enjoy your day, have a good time, and be safe!