March is here and that means spring is right around the corner. But before we get to the sunshine and flowers, there’s a little bit of celebrating to do. It’s a holiday that will have you green with envy. Or just green in general. If you’re stepping out to celebrate at a local parade or Irish pub, don’t leave the house without a green St. Patrick’s Day costume. Because if you’re not wearing green, you’re going to get pinched.
Are you curious about other St. Patrick’s Day traditions? Well, you’re in luck! We’ve got all the facts you need to help you celebrate this year. You might be surprised to hear it’s not just about leprechauns and rainbows.
- Patrick’s Day began as a holiday celebrating the patron saint of Ireland. It was observed for over 1,000 years before it ever involved a parade. Most surprisingly, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in American, not Ireland.
- In 1737, Boston threw the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the United States. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in 1762 in New York City. Chicago joined in the festivities in 1955 when it hosted its first St. Patrick’s Day parade.
- Chicago dyed their river green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day for the first time in 1962. It takes roughly 45 tonnes of plant-based green dye to achieve the festive shade. The color lasts around 5 hours in the river.
- Even though wearing green is a tradition commonly associated with St. Patrick’s Day, the color of the holiday was originally blue. However, in the early 17th century, green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration. This shift is thought to have happened because of Ireland’s nickname “The Emerald Isle,” the green in the Irish flag and the color of the three-leafed clovers.
- Saint Patrick was born in Britain around 390 AD to a Christian family. However, when he was 16, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave. In his six years working as a shepherd, he found God. After escaping and making his way home, Patrick went on to become a priest. He later returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity.
- It is rumored that Saint Patrick’s wasn’t originally named Patrick. His birth name was Maewyn Succat. It wasn’t until he became a priest that he changed his name to Patricius.
- Saint Patrick reportedly used the shamrock as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity. When he was first introducing Christianity to Ireland, he explained the concept of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by showing unbelievers the three-leafed plant with one stalk.
- Saint Patrick is known for having chased snakes away in Ireland. However, due to the climate, there were no snakes for him to banish from the island. It’s speculated that the “snakes” that St. Patrick saved the townspeople from were representative of the Druids and pagans in Ireland.
- Saint Patrick’s saintly status is somewhat questionable because a pope never canonized him. However, there wasn’t a formal canonization process in the Church’s first millennium. Most saints from that period were given the title if they were seen as extraordinarily holy or were martyrs.
- Saint Patrick’s Day originated as a religious holiday observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, especially the Church of Ireland, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Lutheran Church. However, the holiday, particularly in the United States, is a largely secular holiday celebrating all things Irish.
- In the United States, roughly 34.7 million residents claim to have Irish ancestry. That number is estimated to be more than seven times the population of Ireland.
- Saint Patrick’s Day used to be a dry holiday. Since it was considered a strictly religious holiday for most of the 20th century, pubs were closed for business on March 17. It wasn’t until the day was converted to a national holiday in 1970 that the stout started flowing.
- The best way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is with a pint of beer. An earlier estimate pegged the total amount spent on beer to exceed $245 million. Not surprisingly, Guinness is one of the most popular choices for the day. Roughly 13 million pints of Guinness will be served on Saint Patrick’s Day.
- If you’re feasting on a traditional Saint Patrick’s Day meal, you might be confused to know there is no corn in corned beef and cabbage. Instead of the starchy vegetable, corned beef is named after the large grains of salt that were used to cure meats, which were known as “corns.”
- No Saint Patrick’s Day is complete without some passionate cries of “Erin go Bragh!” The phrase is a corruption of “Irish Eirinn go Brách” which roughly translates to “Ireland forever.”
- Leprechauns are known for guarding pots of gold, and according to legends, they worked hard to earn said gold. Leprechauns are rumored to spend their days making and mending shoes.
- Despite being represented on holiday decorations or with costumes, there are no female leprechauns. Traditional Irish folktales only featured male leprechauns and nattily attired little girls.