St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity's most widely known figures. But for all his celebrity, his life remains somewhat of a mystery. Many of the stories traditionally associated with St. Patrick, including the famous account of his banishing all the snakes from Ireland, are false, the products of hundreds of years of exaggerated storytelling. St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17, his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years. St. Patrick is the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of Ireland.
St. Patrick was born as Maewyn Succat during the fourth century in Britain. His parents were very wealthy. His father was also a Christian deacon for tax incentive reasons. When Maewyn was about sixteen his family and their home was attacked by Irish raiders. Maewyn was kidnapped and forced to become a slave working as a shepherd in County Mayo in Ireland. It was during his time as a slave that he turned to God. He had a dream one night to escape the next day and travel back home to Britain. The next day he did just that and travelled the 200 miles back home to Britain. Once he returned, Maewyn had another religious dream. An angel told him to become a missionary and spread Christianity back in Ireland. He then spent the next fifteen years training to become a priest and chose Patrick as his Christian Saint name. In 432 AD he went back to Ireland as a priest. He tried to convert the Irish people from a Pagan polytheistic religion that worshipped the sun and the moon to Christianity. He also created and taught at many schools along Ireland's west coast. One of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity (the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit) to the Irish people. After nearly thirty years of teaching and spreading God's word he died on March 17th 461 AD. Soon after his death the country of Ireland decided to remember his death with a day of his own and thus St. Patrick's Day was born.
Originally the color associated with St. Patrick was blue not green. However over the years the color green and its association with St. Patrick's day grew. Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St Patrick's Day as early as the 17th century. He is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Christian Irish, and the wearing and display of shamrocks and shamrock-inspired designs have become a ubiquitous feature of the day. Then in 1798 in hopes of making a political statement Irish soldiers wore full green uniforms on March 17th in hopes of catching attention with their unusual fashion gimmick. The phrase "the wearing of the green", meaning to wear a shamrock on one's clothing, derives from the song of the same name.