For thousands of years, Irish Catholics have traditionally celebrated St. Patrick's Day by attending church in the morning and celebrating in the afternoon with a huge feast, honoring Ireland's patron saint. Even though March 17 falls in the middle of Lent when Catholics were forbidden to eat meat, this was waived in Ireland for feasting - mostly on cabbage and Irish bacon, according to History.com.
But who was Saint Patrick? The truth is, much of his life is a mystery. One of the most famous legends of St. Patrick describes how he banished all snakes from the Emerald Isle into the ocean and they drowned. Philip M. Freeman, an expert in Celtic and classical studies at Washington University in St. Louis claims in his book, "St. Patrick of Ireland," that this legend is false.
What is known about St. Patrick is that he was born in England to wealthy parents near the end of the 4th century. At age 15, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates from his parents' estate in the Roman province of Britain, and sold into slavery in Ireland, where he spent six years in captivity, according to Freeman. After his escape, Patrick wrote in a letter of an "angel" speaking to him in a dream, telling him to become a missionary in Ireland, according to History.com.