GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) – St. Patrick’s Day is a fun little holiday that we celebrate…but do we really know why? It does give you an excuse to wear a bunch of green, eat corned beef and cabbage and try any drink with the word shamrock in in for the day, but is that all?. Seriously though, what’s the deal with St. Patrick’s Day? Here are 13 lucky facts on what this Irish holiday is all about.
1. WE SHOULD REALLY WEAR BLUE
St. Patrick himself DID NOT WEAR GREEN! His color was actually, “St. Patrick’s blue”, a lighter shade in the blue family. The color green only became associated with the holiday after the Irish Independence movement in the late 18th century.
2. St. PATRICK’S ACTUALLY BRITISH
St. Patrick’s not even Irish! He was born in Wales in the late fourth century. St. Patrick’s tie to Ireland is because he helped spread Christianity there in the year 432, but he himself is NOT Irish.
3. IT USED TO BE A DRY HOLIDAY
St. Patrick’s Day was considered a religious holiday in Ireland, which meant that the country’s pubs were actually closed for business on March 17. It wasn’t until 1970, when St. Patrick’s Day became a national holiday, that alcohol consumption was allowed.
4. THERE’S A REASON FOR THE SHAMROCKS
St. Patrick’s Day isn’t associated with shamrocks just because they look cute in sequins on t-shirts or just because it’s a fun word to say (seriously….say it like 5 times and try not to smile). According to the Irish legend, when St. Patrick first started introducing Christianity to Ireland he used the three-leafed plant as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity (The Father, the son, and the holy spirit).
5. IT WAS ALMOST CALLED SAINT MAEWYN’S DAY
St. Patrick wasn’t originally called Patrick? Apparently his real name is Maewyn Succat but he changed it to Patricius when he became a priest.
6. IT HAS IT’S OWN TAG LINE
If you attend a St. Patrick’s Day event, you might hear the a cry of “Erin go Bragh”, which means “Ireland Forever”. ERIN GO BRAGH St. Patrick! ERIN GO BRAGH!
7. THE PARTY STARTED IN BOSTON
The first time Irish immigrants recognized St. Patrick’s day in America was in 1737 in Boston, Massachusetts.
8. MARCH 17TH IS WHEN ST. PATRICK DIED
St. Patrick died on March 17, 461 AD. This celebration is actually a celebration for St. Patrick’s entrance to heaven, not his birth or his arrival to Ireland.
9. THERE ARE MORE IRISH IN THE USA THAN IRELAND
Sort of anyways? There is an estimated 34 million Americans that have some sort of Irish heritage while only 4.2 million people actually live in Ireland. Today there is approximately 144,588 current U.S. residents who were born in Ireland.
10. CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE ISN’T AN IRISH TRADITION
Apparently corned beef and cabbage are about as Irish as a taco salad? Pork was the preferred meet but it was too expensive for newly arrived Irish families to America at the time so people began cooking beef—the staple meat in the American diet instead.
11. THE FIRST ST. PATRICK’S PARADE WASN’T EVEN IN IRELAND
The first St. Patrick’s parade actually took place in New York in 1762 where Irish soldiers walked down the streets. Now more than 100 St. Patrick’s Day parades are held across the United States. New York City and Boston are home to the largest celebrations.
12. ST. PATRICK WAS A SLAVE
Before St. Patrick became St. Patrick, he was captured at the age of 16 when his family estate was actually attacked by Irish raiders. They took him back to Ireland with then where St. Patrick stayed for six years until he escaped and made it back to England. St. Patrick believed it was a miracle from God that saved him therefore he joined the Catholic Church, studied for 15 years, became a saint and then went on his church’s second missionary to Ireland to spread Christianity.
13. FOUR-LEAFED CLOVES REALLY ARE LUCKY
The odds of finding a four-leafed clover are 1 in 10,000, so if you DO actually ever find one then the odds were in your favor and I would say that makes you pretty darn lucky.