By Dana Kephart
St. Patrick’s Day dominates the month of March, with green beer, interesting legends, and little-known facts. Since we will celebrate the fun holiday tomorrow, we thought you might want to learn a few things about St. Patrick’s Day.
There are some things about the holiday that falls on March 17 that you didn’t know. For instance – St. Patrick wasn’t Irish.
*St. Patrick was actually British, born to Roman parents in either Scotland or Wales (no one is exactly sure which).
After being forced into slavery by Irish pirates, he turned to his Christian faith and became one of the first people to bring the religion to the country in the fifth century, around the year 432.
*And his birth name was Maewyn Succat. This is according to Irish legend. He changed it to the Latin name Patricius after becoming a priest.
*We should actually be wearing blue for the holiday. Historians say that St. Patrick’s color was blue, not green.
The use of green on the holiday became common during the 1600s and 1700s, when the clover became a symbol of nationalism and wearing green on lapels became the norm.
*Americans rack up a pretty significant bar tab during celebrations. On St. Patrick’s Day 2019, Americans were estimated to have spent a record-breaking $5.9 billion, with the average person paying $39.65. But it wasn’t always such a party holiday.
*It used to be a dry holiday. Up until the 1970s, St. Patrick’s Day was considered a religious holiday in Ireland, meaning all the pubs in the country were closed, thanks to a law written by Parliament member James O’Mara.
However, Ireland later realized that they could attract a lot of tourists for the holiday, and the (green) beer was suddenly free-flowing.
*There are more Irish people in America than in Ireland. According to recent census data, there are 39.6 million Americans who list their heritage as primarily or partially Irish, compared to 6.3 million people in Ireland.
*A shamrock symbolizes hope, love and life. St. Patrick reportedly used shamrocks to explain the Holy Trinity, but later interpretations also said the three leaves are meant to symbolize hope, love and faith.
If there’s a fourth leaf, it symbolizes luck, which is why we consider four-leaf clovers to be lucky.
*The traditional meal isn’t actually Irish. Corned beef and cabbage have long been considered a special St. Patrick’s Day dish, but it isn’t traditionally Irish.
Pork was actually the preferred meat of Ireland, but early Irish immigrants to America found that beef was much cheaper, and they could easily cook the beef and cabbage in one pot.
*St. Patrick probably didn’t drive snakes out of Ireland. Some Irish legends claim that he drove all the snakes out of Ireland after being attacked.
Historians and biologists say this probably isn’t true, since there were likely never many snakes in Ireland to begin with, but we’ll let St. Paddy have this one.