Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Relating to Saint Patrick's Day

To the casual participant of Saint Patrick's Day, the day has little to no meaning save an excuse to go around and pinch people. In fact, until today my view has been the same as theirs. However, today I have decided to research just who Saint Patrick was in an attempt to find out why we celebrate this day, and perhaps what he has to do with pinching people that do not wear green.

Saint Patrick turns out to be the patron Saint of Ireland, or at least the most recognized one of them. He was born somewhere around 340 A.D. and when he was sixteen he was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland to serve as a slave for six years. He then managed to escape and return to his family. He soon became a bishop and ended up back in Ireland. Most accounts of his life are heavily criticized, for only two of his hand-written letters remain today. Every other source came from later dates, sometimes centuries later. However, through is supposed exploits there, be they fact or fiction, the Catholic Church made Patrick a saint.

In regards to the pinching of Saint Patrick's day, pinching has no connection whatsoever to the saint. People pinched others in Ireland at one time to remind them that if they did not wear green that leprechauns would begin pinching them. For the most part they do not practice this anymore and view Americans as insane for pinching each other.

For a saint, Saint Patrick seems to be quite the mysterious man. A mere two records of his very existance survived to this day, both being letters that he had wrote. Thankfully the pinching associated with his holiday has no connection whatsoever to him, for otherwise this saint would seem slightly nutty in my eyes. Either way though, Saint Patrick layed the foundation for the Catholic Church in Ireland, which given their previous predominant pagan status, was quite the feat.

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