“I’ll be misunderstood by the beautiful and good in this city” – Robbiego Williamowski.
Every year on the 17th March, people all over the world come together to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. Here in Poland it is known as Dzien Świętego Patryka and I have celebrated this day here in the last two years (2017, 2018). I have also celebrated Saint Patrick’s Day in China, Andaman Islands, Northern Ireland, Hong Kong, England and Australia. I once worked in PJs Irish Pub in Parramatta, dressed as a huge Guinness pint and as a radio DJ in Bournemouth.
However, Saint Patrick’s Day is very much misunderstood, so to get you thinking, and to put things right, I wanted to make you all aware about the real history of this day and Saint Patrick. It was not meant to be a Guinness inspired booze up with green beer and Republic of Ireland flags. Being an Ulsterman, Saint Patrick is Northern Ireland’s patron saint more than the south as he is buried there in Downpatrick and has his shrine there in Armagh City, yet the biggest parties are in Dublin. Here on Dziwaczne Odkrycia are Things You Didn’t Know About Saint Patrick (Święty Patryk).
1.His name isn’t Patrick
Let’s get this right – he is not even called Patrick, nor Paddy, nor Padraig, nor Saint!! Maewyn Succat was his supposed name. But when he moved to Ireland, he took the name Patricius, or Patrick, which is Latin for “Father figure”.
2.It is NOT
Saint Paddy’s Day. It is Saint Patrick’s Day
For me it is an insult to call him Paddy or to call his day Saint Paddy’s Day. The term “Paddy” is a racist term that is used to describe people from Ireland, by people from places like England, USA and Australia e.g. “they’re all Paddies”. It would be like calling all Muslims/Arabs something like “Moheys” as a short and racist term for Mohammed. So it is NOT Paddy. He was known as Patrick.
3.The Colour of Saint Patrick is BLUE. It is not green.
The official colour of Saint Patrick is blue and it’s also the reason that the original Ireland (Northern Ireland) football team first played in blue. This makes is strange to imagine that the day is basically a green fest these days! I guess the reason for this is that Ireland is a green island and we should really be called Greenland, and Greenland should be called Iceland and Iceland should be called Whiteland. The colour St. Patrick’s Blue looks like the carpet here:
Also, as a keen lover of micronations, orders, disputed lands, unrecognised countries and wacaday regions, Saint Patrick could also be a separate country. It is an Order officially recognised in the Republic of Ireland, with its own flag, members and rules. The above hall is where you can “visit” this order or country. Learn more about the Order of Saint Patrick.
4.The Flag of Saint Patrick is a red and white saltire.
On Saint Patrick’s Day you will see lots of green flags, Guinness flags (black and white), county flags, Republic of Ireland flags, Northern Ireland flags, football flags and a whole plethora of unrelated flags. None of those are really relevant, and I admit using my Northern Ireland flag and football flags on that day before. But we should have only one flag – the official Saint Patrick’s flag which is the one below. It is a red and white saltire and was the flag of the Ireland football team before the Republic of Ireland broke away. If you see anyone with this flag on Saint Patrick’s Day, go up and congratulate them on their intelligence – they actually know the real flag of Saint Patrick!
The Saint Patrick’s Flag has also been used in the flags of Alabama, Jersey, Luqa (Malta), Valdivia (Chile), Florida, Shanghai International Settlement and Montreal.
5.Saint Patrick is not Irish. He came from Britain.
Probably one of the most unknown facts about Saint Patrick is that he is not even Irish! He came from mainland Britain, when it was known as Roman Britain. This means he is Scottish, Welsh or English. So while he spent most of his life in Ireland, he was born in Britain and lived there until he was 16.
6.Saint Patrick is buried in Northern Ireland
I personally believe that the biggest celebration for Saint Patrick’s Day should be held in Downpatrick. This is the burial place of Saint Patrick. His gravestone can be seen in the grounds of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Downpatrick, a small town of only 20,000 people.
7.Saint Patrick is not exclusively a Catholic
As Ireland is a mostly Catholic island, many people believe that Saint Patrick’s Day is a Catholic festival. This is very much a myth. He was a Christian Missionary that worked in many branches of Christianity including Armenian Christianity, Protestantism, Catholicism and Lutheranism. I personally believe that everyone in Ireland including Buddhists and Muslims should be celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day as he was a man of peace and honour who brought people together.
8.Saint Patrick invented the Celtic Cross
The famous Celtic Cross that sits proudly on the Northern Ireland football badge didn’t exist until Patrick himself invented it. How did he invent this simple cross? He took the circle from Paganism and combined it with the cross of Christianity and bingo – we have the Celtic Cross.
9.Saint Patrick didn’t drink alcohol
While companies like Guinness, Bushmills and Jameson’s all promote St. Patrick’s Day with their mega marketing, believe it or not but the lad himself was teetotal. Saint Patrick died around 1,200 years before Guinness even existed! It’s still a mystery why everybody goes to Irish pubs on this day!
10.There is a Saint Patrick’s Church in Warszawa, Poland
I recently write about things in Poland that are Northern Irish and things in Northern Ireland that are Polish. It was here that I discovered that there is a Saint Patrick’s Church here in Poland – in Warszawa. Even the colours of it are green and white!
11.Northern Irish football team Donegal Celtic also have a Saint Patrick’s Celtic Cross on their badge
As well as the Northern Ireland national football team using a Celtic Cross, Belfast based Donegal Celtic also use the badge invented by Saint Patrick. The club currently ply their trade in the fourth tier but have been in the top flight before and won the Steel & Sons Cup.
12. Saint Patrick was a Slave
When Patrick was about sixteen years old, he was captured by Irish pirates from his home in Britain and taken as a slave to Ireland, looking after animals. So his first visit to the island didn’t exactly go to plan. However after becoming a clergyman and a public speaker, it was clear that this slave would make a larger impact. Forever remembered by having his own day, the only Irish based person to hold such an accolade.
13.Saint Patrick died on the 17th March
It is rumoured that Saint Patrick died on the 17th March, sometime in the 5th century. This is why I have included point 14 below. It is a ONE day festival on the date of his death.
14.It is NOT Saint Patrick’s Week or Weekend
If you see a bar advertising “Saint Patrick’s Week” or “Saint Patrick’s Weekend”, it’s a caveat emptor! It’s simply a trick of marketing and advertising. Even Guinness advertised it as Saint Patrick’s Weekend in 2019! His celebration is for a day only. The 17th March. That’s it!
15.Saint Patrick is also the patron saint of Nigeria
Nigeria play football in green and drink more Guinness than any other country in the world (Fact!), so it’s no surprise that they have made their patron saint Patrick also. The day is also widely celebrated throughout Nigeria.
16.There are no snakes native in Ireland because of Saint Patrick
Outside of a zoo (and Belfast zoo has a few), there are no snakes in Ireland. This is probably due to the fact that they became extinct or couldn’t survive the ice age, or the climate. Mainland UK has snakes, for example the English Adder but Ireland has none. Rumour has it that Saint Patrick chased them all out, and as I like the story I’ll go along with it. But beware ladies, if an Irish lad offers you to bring you to Belfast and show you his snake, he may have other plans…
17.Downpatrick is St. Patrick’s Town
Dún Pádraig (Irish Gaelic), means “Patrick’s stronghold” and is named in honour of Saint Patrick, who is buried here in the Cathedral. Those wishing to do a true Saint Patrick’s pilgrimage and heritage trail should go here. Downpatrick is also the home of Northern Irish rock band Ash and comedian Patrick Kielty.
So, anyway, enjoy this special day celebrating Ireland’s patron saint!
And Irish for cheers is Sláinte!