Saint Patrick’s Day is this Sunday, so it’s time to bust out the bagpipes, crack open a Guiness and do a little Irish jig. I myself will be running a leprechaun 5k race, where the goal is to run 3.1 miles in the most ridiculous Irish-themed outfit. But where does this all stem from, and who is this Saint Patrick guy anyway? He has a pretty interesting story, and his faith and strong beliefs got him through his harsh teenage years during which he was kidnapped and enslaved by Irish pirates. He later went on to spread Christianity throughout Ireland, and his story is now wrapped in myth and legend.
Although he has now become an Irish icon, Patrick was actually born in England and lived a very comfortable lifestyle until age 16. At 16 everything changed for Patrick when he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and sold into slavery. He was forced to live in a broken down shanty and herd sheep for an Irish landowner for 6 years!
Obviously Patrick was not very happy about this lifestyle change, and began to reach out to God through prayers. He hadn’t been raised with a strong emphasis on religion, but became very religious during these tough times because it was a way to escape from this harsh new reality that he was forced to endure.
One night after a long day, Patrick said his usual prayers before falling asleep in his little sheep herder hut. In a dream that night, he heard a voice instructing him to escape from his master and return to his homeland to reunite with his family in England. He had heard a calling in other dreams before this one, and felt the children of Ireland calling out to him to free them of the Celtic polytheistic beliefs that were mainstream in Ireland at the time.
After 6 years of slavery, Patrick decided to make a run for it. He escaped from his master and came across some sailors who he convinced to let him board their ship. They ended up abandoning the ship off the shores of France after 3 days of sailing, and Patrick traveled an additional 200 miles to get back home to his family.
His religious beliefs remained strong after his escape, and he eventually returned to Ireland as a missionary to spread Christianity throughout the land. Patrick’s influence spread and people began passing around stories about him, like how he drove all of the snakes out of Ireland.
Saint Patrick’s Day became more mainstream once Irish people immigrated to the U.S. Other people liked what they saw, and joined in on the celebration.
What are your Saint Patrick’s Day traditions? Let us know how you like to celebrate!