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Luck of the Irish

By Jeff Sigmund
On March 8, 2017

According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland from Great Britain to convert the Irish to Christianity. The Declaration says that he spent many years evangelizing in the northern half of Ireland and converted thousands. Patrick’s efforts against the druids were eventually turned into a fable in which he drove “snakes” out of Ireland (Ireland never had any snakes).

Tradition holds that he died on March 17 and was buried at Downpatrick. Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland’s foremost saint.

According to Philip Freeman, classics professor at Luther College, “The modern celebration of St. Patrick’s Day really has almost nothing to do with the real man.” 

He added, “St. Patrick’s Day was basically invented in America by Irish-Americans.”

While not a legal holiday in the United States, it is nonetheless widely recognized and observed throughout the country as a celebration of Irish and Irish-American culture.

Celebrations across the world include prominent displays of the color green, numerous parades and large consumptions of alcohol. On any given day 5.5 million pints of Guinness, the famous Irish stout brand, are consumed around the world.

“But on St. Patrick’s Day, that number more than doubles to 13 million pints,” said Beth Davies Ryan, global corporate-relations director of Guinness.

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