St. Patricks Day MYTHS

​Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Here are some myths about the history of this holiday.

  • St Patrick defeats ancient Celtic heroes.
    • “One of the lesser-known legends about St Patrick involves him taking part in a debate with the ancient Celtic hero Oisin. In Celtic mythology, Oisin was one of the legendary Fianna – the ancient warriors led by the hero, Finn McCool (Fionn mac Cumhail). Oisin fell in love with Niamh, a Celtic goddess and one of the queens of Tir na Nog – the land of eternal youth. Oisin went to live with her in Tir na nog and stayed there for several hundred years, never ageing, and retaining all his youth and strength. He decided to return to Niamh but before he could do so, he saw a man struggling to lift a huge stone. Oisin stopped to help but as he strained to lift the stone, the strap on the saddle broke and he fell from the horse. As soon as he touched the ground, he began to age rapidly, turning into a feeble old man. As Oisin lay there dying, St Patrick walked by and stopped to talk. The discussion turned to the relative merits of their two religions and civilizations. St Patrick gets the better of the debate. Oisin dies and St Patrick lives on, symbolizing the triumph of Christianity over the pagan gods of the Celts.”
  • St Patrick banishes snakes from Ireland.
    • “The story goes that St Patrick had subjected himself to a 40-day fast on the top of the mountain now known as Croagh Patrick. As he came down after finishing his fast, he saw snakes gathering in front of him. Perhaps the great man was in a bad mood from his fasting because, angered by the snakes’ look of evil and menace, he chased them into the sea and banished them forever. From that day forward, there were no snakes to be found in Ireland. However, science says the absence of snakes in Ireland is down to Ice Age. The theory is that snakes started to migrate northwards from southern Europe as the last Ice Age ended and temperatures rose.”
  • St Patrick, shamrocks, and the Holy Trinity
    • “Legend has it that the pagan people St Patrick was trying to convert just couldn’t understand this seemingly contradictory idea that God was both one and three at the same time. St Patrick is said to have used the shamrock as a way of explaining the mystery to them. The shamrock was a single plant made up three leaves, each leaf represent one facet of God. This is another St Patrick story that is likely to originated with Irish monks. The first known reference to it, according to the Oxford English dictionary, is 1726. It’s widely thought that St Patrick is responsible for making the shamrock an important Irish symbol. In fact, it has been popular in Ireland for thousands of years. The ancient Celts believed many of the important aspects of life came in groups of three and the shamrock was used to symbolize this.”

St Patrick myths and legends (ireland-calling.com)

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