St. Patrick’s Day Myths and Secrets That Will Surprise You

You probably know St. Patrick’s Day falls on March 17th annually, and that it’s a time for celebration among Irish communities around the world. But you may be surprised at some of the myths and secrets surrounding this cultural and religious day – not least its connection to cats! Let’s dive into the folklore and history of Saint Patrick’s Day.

 

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What’s the Real Story of St. Patrick?

Regarded as the foremost patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick brought Christianity to the country in the 5th Century. March 17th is the date on which he died in the year 493. In modern times, the day is a holiday in Ireland, when people celebrate by…

 

– Feasting on traditional Irish food like potato stew

– Indulging in a pint or three of “the black stuff” – Guinness!

– Holding parades (Chicago even dyes its river green!)

– Wearing green clothing and novelty leprechaun outfits

– Displaying symbols like shamrocks, harps, Celtic crosses, and snakes

 

Didn’t St. Patrick Hate Snakes?

As the legend goes, St. Patrick banished all snakes from Ireland. However, scholars now believe that the term “snakes” actually refers to druids or pagans.

 

What’s the Cat Connection?

You may be surprised to learn that St. Paddy shares his special day with another saint: St. Gertrude of Nivelles, the patron saint of cats who was born in Belgium in 626!

Ireland in general has many a connection to cats, through both science and Celtic folklore. The short-haired, tail-less Manx cat is a breed that originated in Ireland. There are tales of Cait Sidhe (pronounced “caught shee”) the mythical black “fairy cats” said to steal the souls of dead people if their families didn’t distract them with riddles! On a more pleasant note, the Black Bog Cat grants you wealth and happiness if you see him roaming Ireland’s peat marshes.

So whether or not you’re Irish, during your St. Patrick’s Day celebration this year, take a moment to appreciate your cat and the other saint whose special day it is!

 

 

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