Here Are Some Things You Never Knew About Saint Patrick's Day
Every year on March 17th, people around the world celebrate Saint Patrick's Day with parades, feasts, and a whole lot of green. But what is Saint Patrick's Day and why do we celebrate it?
The celebration marks the death of Ireland's foremost saint, Saint Patrick, on March 17th, 461 AD. Little is known about Saint Patrick except that he was kidnapped by Irish raiders at the age of 16 and sent to Ireland as a slave. After being forced to work as a shepherd for seven years, he managed to escape and reunite with his family. Back home he gets ordained as a catholic priest, which eventually inspires him to return to Ireland to convert thousands of Irish pagans to Christianity.
Today, St. Patrick's Day — which started as a religious commemoration of the arrival of Christianity in the island — is largely a secular celebration of Irish culture. In Ireland, people wear green and pin a bunch of shamrocks to their clothing to honor their heritage. Families also celebrate by sitting down to a large feast at the dinner table. Such feasts include stewed meats, shepherd's pie, veggies, mashed potatoes, and a lot of local Irish beer.
In honor of Irish culture, here are some of the most interesting St. Patrick’s Day facts and tidbits:
- Did you know that Saint Patrick was not actually Irish or called Patrick? Ireland's patron saint is believed to have been born in 385 AD in Britain as Maewyn Succat.
- Shamrocks, Ireland's national flower and emblem, are said to be associated with Saint Patrick's Day because, according to legends, Saint Patrick used the three-leaf clover to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans. Another popular myth credits Saint Patrick with having chased all of Ireland's snakes out of the country, and while it's true that there are no snakes on the island today, biologists maintain there never were any. Both of these stories are merely part of Irish folklore.
- Speaking of clovers, your odds of finding a four-leaf clover are about 1 in 10,000 so good luck finding one!
- As previously mentioned, beer is the most heavily consumed drink during festivities. In fact, over 13 million pints are consumed and $245 million are spent on beer around the world.
- Did you know that the first parade in the Irish capital of Dublin took place as late as 1995? In fact, the first official parade actually occurred in New York City in 1766.