For many, March 17th is an open call to drink all of the green beer. For some, it’s a day to gorge on corned beef and cabbage. For others, it’s a day to don green apparel and go around pinching those who aren’t wearing the color. But not one of these activities has much to do with the actual, real traditional celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, the feast day of Ireland’s patron saint.
Of course, that disconnect is to be expected when said traditions stretch back around 1,700 years and are inspired by a man most of us know more misconceptions than accuracies. To help understand the real history of St. Patrick’s Day, and share a bit about the historical figure for which the day is named, we spoke to Dr. Sean Brennan, a professor of history at the University of Scranton.
He was not Irish, that much we know for sure. “Exactly when St . Patrick was born has never been precisely determined, although most historians agree it was the late 300s or the very early 400s,” Brennan tells The Manual. He was born in Western England, likely Wales. At the time, the area was part of the Roman Empire’s province of Britannia, which consisted of both modern-day England and Wales, with its northern border marked by Hadrian’s Wall.