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Myths of St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day is celebrated by millions of people in Ireland, America and many other countries. The video examines some of the myths around the patron saint of Ireland.
    Language Notes and Explanations
  • attire= clothes
  • raider= a person who attack enemies in their territory; a marauder.
  • Emerald Isle= a popular nickname for Ireland
  • leaf, pl. leaves = foglia
  • take off= rise
  • famine= extreme scarcity of food
  • tabard= a pub
  • toasting= drink to the health or in honour of someone or something, by raising one's glass together with others.
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Millions of people around the world turn on their best green attire every March 17th to celebrate Saint Patrick's day, but there is a lot we bet you didn't know about Ireland's patron saint.

[0:12] To start with, Saint Patrick wasn't even Irish: he was born around the fifth century in Britain, then part of the Roman empire. At sixteen he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and spent 6 years in captivity.

[0:26] He converted to Christianity and later returned to Ireland to spend the rest of his life working as a Christian missionary. After Patrick on March 17th, 461 (four hundred and sixty-one) he was largely forgotten, until mythology and legend grew and centuries later he was honored as the patron saint of Ireland.

[0:44] According to one famous myth, Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland. The story symbolized Patrick's replacing paganism. There is just one problem: Ireland never had any snakes to begin with: the Emerald Isle is surrounded by water too freezing for snakes to migrate there, whether from Britain or anywhere else.

[1:04] According to another famous story, Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. As a result, people in eighteenth-century Ireland started wearing shamrocks on March 17th, to signify their Irish Christian pride.

[1:18] That tradition later grew into wearing green clothing, a popular St. Patrick's custom today.

[1:24] Though shamrock don't really exist we know them as several three-leaf plants, such as wood sorrel or white and yellow clover.

[1:32] As important as St. Patrick is in Irish history, we bet you didn't know the tradition of celebrating March 17th with parades actually started in America. The parade tradition really took off after the great potato famine in Ireland in the 1840s (eighteen forties) sending hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants pouring into New York, Boston and other American cities.

[1:54] The first record of the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York dates to 1762, when a group of Irish soldiers serving with the British marched a few blocks to a tabard in Lower Manhattan.

[2:05] Today, it's the largest and longest St. Patrick's Day parade, with close to 200,000 participants and nearly three million spectators each year.

[2:14] So this March 17th, we hope to be wearing green and toasting to some St. Patrick's Day history that we bet you didn't know!