Who is St. Patrick anyway?

As a kid, I never questioned the fact I would have to wear green and hope for a rainbow in the sky during this holiday. Then there was the fact a so-called leprechaun would come into my elementary classroom and destroy everything in his tracks, which led my classmates on an annual manhunt. 

A beautiful rainbow shines through the dark clouds just in time for St. Patty’s Day to find the bucket of gold. (Photo by Madison Sharrock.)

Now, as an adult, I am realizing I don’t know why we follow these traditions of green and gold. So, let’s learn history together. 


St. Patrick was born in Britain and was held as a prisoner in Ireland for 6 years. He eventually escaped, became a priest, and spread Christianity to the Irish people. Legend has it he drove all snakes out of Ireland during this time, but it was simply a metaphor for converting Pagans. 


The Irish started pinning shamrocks on their clothes to symbolize their faith, each petal representing the Holy Trinity. Originally, the color was a light blue, but was changed to green during the Irish Rebellion in 1798.  


St. Patrick died on March 17, 1631, and the Church held a feast to celebrate his life, thus creating St. Patrick’s Day. Parades originated in the United States as Irish immigrants came in; their main goal was to end discrimination against their heritage. 


Ever wondered why you get pinched for not wearing green on the holiday? Wearing green makes you invisible to leprechauns, according to fairytales. Leprechauns are known to be stealthy pranksters, so people pinch those who don’t wear green as a reminder the creature could sneak up on them at any moment. 


Rainbows are also connected to the holiday because St. Patrick said it symbolizes God’s promise to not destroy the Earth with a flood. 


Now you know who St. Patrick is, make sure to wear green or watch your back!