St Patrick’s Day 2024: Who was Saint Patrick, did he banish snakes from Ireland and why people wear green?

St Patrick’s Day (or affectionately St Paddy’s) is here but there’s more to the Irish holiday than just wearing green and enjoying a night at your local pub.

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Revellers worldwide will be taking to their local Irish bars this weekend to raise a glass to Ireland’s Patron Saint. However, green clothing and debauchery are not all there is to the celebration - as Saint Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday which the Irish have observed for over 1000 years.

Here’s what we know about Saint Patrick and why people celebrate him.

When is St Patrick’s Day 2024?

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St Patrick’s Day always falls on March 17, that means in 2024 it falls on a Sunday. This date was chosen as it was the day that Saint Patrick died in 461 AD.

Who was Saint Patrick?

Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and we celebrate him for introducing Christianity to the country. However, St. Patrick was not from Ireland and was born in Roman Britain. The Irish Central reported that he may even be Scottish as research found he was born in the year 387 in Kilpatrick.

His spiritual biography entitled ‘Confessio’ details that he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and brought to Ireland as a slave at age 16. When free, he travelled throughout the country and used a Shamrock (a three-leaf clover which is Ireland’s national flower) to explain the Holy Trinity; representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Why do we wear green on St Patrick’s Day?

Some say green is worn on St Patrick’s Day as it reflects Ireland’s nickname of ‘the Emerald Isle’. It also ties into the green stripe of the country’s flag which represents Catholicism while the orange represents Protestantism with a white stripe between them to symbolise peace.

National Geographic suggests that wearing green is a modern tradition tied to folklore that says the wearer will be invisible to leprechauns who like to pinch anyone they could see.

Did St Patrick banish snakes from Ireland?

Legend has it that St Patrick chased all the snakes in Ireland into the sea - which explains why there are no snakes in the country. The story seems to date back to a late seventh century book about the Life of Saint Columba. The fossil record of Ireland, however, shows that there have never been snakes in Ireland, so there would have been none for St Patrick to get rid of.



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