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March 16, 2014

Facts about Saint Patrick’s Day

NORMAN — The most kids know of St. Patrick’s Day is that you must wear green or you’ll get pinched, and adults associate the day with green beer or other alcoholic beverages. However, few really know what they are celebrating or why the holiday is important.

· Why do we celebrate March 17? In some accounts, this day was the day St. Patrick went to his reward in Glory. Since records of births and deaths weren’t very accurate in the late 4th, early 5th century, it was more likely the date was chosen because it coincided with lent. Sort of like Christmas and December 25.

· Where is the birthplace of St. Patrick? Contrary to popular belief, St. Patrick was not Irish. His ancestry was Roman, but he was born in Scotland or Whales. (Scholars can’t agree on which.) The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Depending on who was in rule and how much land was taken during that rule, land boundaries were often blurred. They would change with the next ruler. Scholars do agree he was shanghaied by Irish pirates while he and some friends played on the beach. At age 16, he was taken to Ireland and sold into slavery. After six years, he escaped and made his way back home. He became a Christian and studied in a monastery. He went back to Ireland as a missionary — Information from Catholic Online, March 2013, bio: true story.

· Myth or fact: St. Patrick was accredited with driving all the snakes from Ireland? According to National Geographic, there were no reptiles at all in Northern Europe until 1000 A.D. simply because it was too cold. Northern Europe today lays claim to only three snakes: the grass snake, the smooth snake and the only venomous snake, the adder. None of these are native to Ireland. The only reptile native to Ireland didn’t arrive until the last 1,000 years. It is a legless lizard. (So much for global warming being a 20th century problem.)

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