I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but one of the most popular tales about St. Patrick never happened. The popular story is that St. Patrick once stood on a hilltop and banished all the snakes from Ireland. In fact, the island nation was never home to any snakes. The "banishing of the snakes" was really a metaphor for the eradication of pagan ideology from Ireland and the triumph of Christianity. Within two hundred years of Patrick's arrival, Ireland was completely Christianized.
Today, St. Patrick's day has become an excuse to party and drink to excess. In Ireland, St. Patrick's Day has traditionally been a religious occasion. In fact, up until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on March 17. Despite the fact I'm of Irish Catholic descent, I won't be out drinking green beer and painting the town green. Against all odds, I don't drink alcohol. Consider me an embarrassment to my people.
Happy St. Patrick's Day nonetheless!
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