More magic has attached itself to Saint Patrick than to any other saint. While he is the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patricks Day is also celebrated earnestly in England and America as well as “at home” in Ireland.

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Like King Arthur, Saint Patrick has assembled a strange mix of both Christian and pagan associations. The “true facts” are very much a matter of individual faith and some St Patricks Day gifts may be relics from long before Saint Patrick.

Patrick called on a pagan God

Satan dropped a rock on Patrick which only disappeared when he called on the Greek sun god “Helias”. In early Christianity, pagan and Christian ideas were often equated. Patrick appeared to have had little difficulty in interpreting it as a Christian miracle.

Patrick pre-dated Harry Potter fire-throwing

Legends of uncertain antiquity report a magic duel between Saint Patrick and pagan priests in which they throw fire and storms at each other. Finally, Patrick sent his opponent flying through the air, dashing his brains out. It is entirely possible that these stories aren’t true.

Another one is that Patrick spent 40 days on a mountain (the Wicklow hills?) and made God promise that he could choose which Irish get into Heaven and that the English would never rule Ireland.

That one is a tad suspicious because “English” wasn’t invented for several more centuries (probably in Scotland). Everyone spoke Celtic dialects or Latin.

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Shamrocks and leprechauns

The word “seamróg” means “little plant”. It is assumed that it was clover, but sorrel has also been suggested because it was often eaten. The story that Patrick used it to teach the Trinity must be a joke. Nobody really understands the Trinity and chewing clover isn’t going to help. And what about the fourth leaf?

Leprechaun means “pigmy” and could be a folk memory of early inhabitants of the British Isles. Until the 20th century they were always depicted dressed in red not green. Still, both leprechauns and shamrock are extremely ancient and extremely Irish and make ideal St Patricks Day gifts, with examples to be seen here: https://www.shamrockgift.com/st-patricks-day.

Patrick refused to suckle upon a man’s breasts

This rather odd request was made by the captain that rescued him from slavery. He declined but the ship then became lost at sea and everyone nearly died.