It’s Saint Patrick’s Day! For most of us it’s just a fun day to wear green and pinch those who don’t, but for the Irish Saint Patrick’s Day is a national holiday. There’s a lot more to Saint Patrick’s Day than clovers and green beer. We have 10 facts about the holiday you probably didn’t know.
1. This is going to come to a shock to many but St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish! He was actually Welsh and went to Ireland as a Christian Missionary.
2. Those of us who enjoy a pint on St. Patrick’s Day might be surprised to learn that it used to be a dry holiday because it was a religion affiliated holiday, the drinking traditions began around 1970.
3. Wondering where the shamrocks came from? St. Patrick used the symbol of the shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit).
4. In Ireland St. Patrick’s Day, or Paddy’s Day as they call it, is a national holiday. Schools and most businesses are closed for celebration and most cities enjoy parades and street parties.
5. It’s not St. Patrick’s Day for the Irish without corned beef and cabbage. When the Irish first began immigrating to the U.S. they wanted to celebrate the holiday in style so they splurged on corned beef and then got the cheapest vegetable they could to accompany it, cabbage.
6. Kiss me I’m Irish! Between 1840 and 1930 about 4.5 million Irish immigrants arrived in the U.S. so pucker up there’s a lot of Irish representatives here in the U.S.
7. Many people in the U.S. refer to the holiday as St. Patty’s Day. It’s easy to see how they would do so given that the abbreviation for Patrick is Pat, but in Ireland they are adamant that it’s Paddy, not Patty. This is so important to the Irish that they have a whole website to explaining it. But the gist is Paddy is derived from the Irish word, Pádraig, which is a boys name meaning noble, the native spin on Pádraig is Patrick. Patty is the diminutive of Patricia, or a hamburger.
8. St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal in many places of the world. The first St. Patrick’s Day and parade in North America was held in Boston in 1737 followed by New York City in 1756. But the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade is held in Chicago with over 2 million spectators and participants, in fact the Chicago River is dyed completely green for the occasion!
9. One of the littlest known facts is that every year the Irish leader travels to the U.S. White House to present the sitting president with a crystal bowl full of luscious green shamrocks. This tradition began in 1952 when then Irish ambassador to Washington, John Hearne, sent a box of it to president Harry S Truman.
10. We all know we will get pinched if we don’t wear green on March. 17th but the original color of St. Patrick’s Day was actually blue! The color was blue until Ireland rebelled against Great Britain in 1798. That is when they changed the color to green to represent nationalism.