Every year on March 17, everyone turns a little Irish. From drinking rituals, religious observances to green outfits, the festive fervor remains unparalleled on this day. Today, many countries across the world celebrate this auspicious day in memory of the patron saint of Ireland. While all of us have a brief idea about this day, there are also many interesting facts related to the patron saint that deserves equal credit. In this post, we will look at ten things one ought to know about St. Patrick’s Day.
1. St. Patrick was not Irish:
Saint Patrick was born into a wealthy family in Great Britain and was named MaewynSuccat at birth. Patrick himself was not that much of a believer up until his capture at the age of 16 by Irish raiders. The young boy was sold into slavery and spent close to 6 years in Ireland where he tended sheep by the Irish countryside. This is when he found religion. He escaped to England where he was ordained as a priest. Shortly after, he returned to Ireland again upon getting God’s calling.
2. Saint Patrick’s color was not green:
As surprised you may be to hear this; it is right by all accounts. The main holiday was initially associated with the color blue. Till date, some countries still adhere by the color blue also known as the Saint Patrick’s blue. The prominence of the color green came during the year 1798 after the Irish rebellion. Over the years, this tradition of wearing green has stuck on. Irish, as well as non-Irish people, participate in wearing the traditional green color.
3. The significance of the shamrock.
Pinning a shamrock to your coat and wearing green was popularised during this time which later went on to become the official color for the festivities. The shamrock is associated mainly with good luck and was also used to signify the holy trinity, i.e. the father, son, and the holy spirit.
4. Saint Patrick’s Day used to be a religious holiday:
This is indeed correct and for the most of the 20th century, this day was celebrated as a religious holiday, and all the pubs home in Ireland closed down its business during those days. In the year 1970, this status was officially changed after people started recognizing the day as a more secular and festive day.
5. St, Patrick didn’t drive out snakes from Ireland:
The legend and stories say that St. Patrick was instrumental in driving out snakes from Ireland. This, however, is not true as the geographical location of the island and temperatures surrounding it made it impossible for snakes to migrate here. The patron saint was nevertheless successful in driving away symbolic serpents that represented a threat to Christianity.
6. The significance of March 17:
Saint Patrick died on 17th March 461 A.D. As per norms of the Catholic church, the day of death of the saint is named as this is considered to be a holy day. A day when they are finally said to enter the gates of heaven and therefore the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.
7. Corned beef has no corn in it:
The traditional staple food doesn’t have any corn in it. Corn as a reference is used historically to signify large grains of salt that were used to cure meats. Also, corn beef came to be introduced much later in the 19th century.
8. St. Patrick was not a canonized saint:
The practice of canonizing saints came much later after the death of St. Patrick. During the lifetime of the revered saint, the title of “Saint” was officially used only to those who were deemed Pope worthy. This was a title bestowed to those who performed miracles and were known for their martyrdom.
9. There are 34.7 million US residents with Irish descent, more than seven times of the population of Ireland:
The Irish immigrants to the US were the first people to transform St. Patrick’s Day into a secular and a national holiday. This also meant the arrival of booze, Irish Guinness and green beer which were earlier prohibited. Cities with a large number of the immigrant population like New York and Chicago were the first ones to hold elaborate parades.
10. Chicago dyed its river green:
Chicago became the only city to dye its river green for St. Patrick’s Day. To complete this effect, 45 pounds of vegetable-based dye is used. This method was found out by the head of the plumber’s union who stumbled upon this idea while finding out sources of river pollution.
So, there we have ten surprising facts about St. Patrick’s Day that every person should know. What started as a strictly religious holiday is now today a worldwide celebration of the patron saint.