St. Patrick's Day Facts
- We should really wear blue.
- Saint Patrick himself would have to deal with pinching on his feast day. His color was “Saint Patrick’s blue,” a light shade. The color green only became associated with the big day after it was linked to the Irish independence movement in the late 18th century.
- St. Patrick was not Irish
- Although he made his mark by introducing Christianity to Ireland in the year 432, Patrick wasn’t Irish himself. He was born to Roman parents in Scotland or Wales in the late fourth century.
- It use to be a dry holiday.
- For most of the 20th century, Saint Patrick’s Day was considered a strictly religious holiday in Ireland, which meant that the nation’s pubs were closed for business on March 17. (The one exception went to beer vendors at the big national dog show, which was always held on Saint Patrick’s Day.) In 1970, the day was converted to a national holiday, and the stout resumed flowing.
- There's a reason for Shamrocks.
- According to Irish legend, the saint used the three-leafed plant as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity when he was first introducing Christianity to Ireland.
- Cold Weather helped Saint Patrick's Legend
- In Irish lore, Saint Patrick gets credit for driving all the snakes out of Ireland. Modern scientists suggest that the job might not have been too hard – according to the fossil record, Ireland has never been home to any snakes. Through the Ice Age, Ireland was too cold to host any reptiles, and the surrounding seas have staved off serpentine invaders ever since. Modern scholars think the “snakes” Saint Patrick drove away were likely metaphorical.
- It could have been Saint Maewyn's Day
- According to Irish legend, Saint Patrick wasn’t originally called Patrick. His birth name was Maewyn Succat, but he changed his name to Patricius after becoming a priest.
- The Shamrock is not a symbol of Ireland
- The shamrock is a popular Irish symbol, but it is not the symbol of Ireland. As early as the medieval period, the harp has appeared on Irish gravestones and manuscripts. However, it is certain that the harp was popular in Irish legend and culture even well before that period.
Since the medieval period, the harp has represented the nation. King Henry VIII used the harp on coins as early as 1534. Later, the harp was used on Irish flags and Irish coats of arms. The harp was also used as a symbol of the Irish people during their long struggle for freedom. Starting in 1642 the harp appeared on flags during rebellions against English rule. When Ireland became an independent country in 1921, it adopted the harp as the national symbol.
- There are more Irish in the USA than Ireland.
- An estimated 34 million Americans have Irish ancestry. Some are pure-blood Irish, meaning they or their parents came from Ireland, but many more have mixed ancestry today. By contrast, there are 4.2 million people living in Ireland. This peculiarity has a lot to do with the troubled history of Ireland. During the potato famine in Ireland, millions of Irish left the country for the US. This diaspora of Irish continued throughout much of the 19th century. Great numbers of Irish immigrants filled factories, served as railroad laborers --and even joined the military, sometimes immediately upon stepping foot on American soil! During the US Civil War, entire regiments of troops were comprised exclusively of Irish immigrants. It wasn't until the economic boom of the 1990s that more Irish stayed in their native country than traveled abroad searching for better opportunities.
St. Patrick's Day Quiz
St. Patrick's Day History