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Monday, March 13, 2017

What You May Not Know About St. Patrick's Day




As with several holidays, there are things about St. Patrick's Day that most people don't know.  I thought I would just throw some of them out there for fun.

Did you know that the saying that on St. Patrick's Day everyone is a little bit Irish isn't that far off?  More than 12% of the US is a little bit Irish.  This of course comes from the great Irish immigration during the years of the famous potato famine.  Also, there are more than 80 people around the world that can trace their ancestry partially back to the emerald isle.

Did you know that Saint Patrick was Welsh?  That's right, although his work is renowned for being done in Ireland, which it was mostly, he was from Wales.



Did you know that the shamrock was originally a teaching tool?  When St. Patrick was spreading Christianity across the emerald isle, he used the shamrock to teach the trinity.  He cited the three leaves of the shamrock as the Father, Son and Holy spirit.

Did you know that Dripsey, in County Cork was for years home to the shortest St. Patrick's Parade in the world?  It went 77 feet from one pub to another. Now, the shortest one is 98 feet and it goes down Bridge Street in Hot Springs, Arizona.



Did you know that in Chicago, every year, they dye the river green?  It's put on by the local plumbers union #110 and the dye, to the tune of 40 pounds, lasts for around 5 hours.  The powder itself is orange, but turns green in the water.  It's been a tradition since 1962, and Chicago is also one of the best places in the country to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

It should come as no surprise that sales for Guiness beer reach their yearly peak on St. Patrick's Day.  The surprise comes from the sheer number.  Nearly 13 million pints of it are served on that day alone.



Did you know that green was not the color that was originally associated with Saint Patrick's Day?  Surprised?  I know I was.  Originally, the color green was considered unlucky.  The color blue was considered symbolic of Ireland and is still the Presidential Standard today.

Did you know that the colors on the Irish flag each have a meaning?  Green is for the Catholics and Orange is for the Protestants.  White is for Peace.



Did you know that despite the parades and festivities in Boston and Chicago being more celebrated in the media that the first St. Patrick's Day Parade ever took place in New York City in the 1760's?  It is still held every year and is one of the longest running parades in the country.

Did you know that a lot of famous people leave Ireland on St. Patrick's Day?  Musicians and others tend to get paid very well to perform in other countries for the world famous holiday.  So, if you think that you can go and see Riverdance in Ireland on St. Patrick's Day, probably not.



Did you know that Sydney, Australia put green lights on the opera house for St. Patrick's Day in 2010?  Why?  Well, they had their first St. Patrick's Day in Sydney in 1810 and they did it to celebrate the 200th anniversary of celebrating the holiday in Australia.

Did you know that for many years, St. Patrick's Day was strictly a religious holiday in Ireland and all the pubs were closed?  The only exception was at the national dog show which was held every March 17th. It wasn't until 1970 that the pubs opened on the holiday.

Did you know that there have never been snakes in Ireland?  St. Patrick has long since in folklore been credited with driving all the snakes out of Ireland.  Given that there were no snakes, that would have been easy to do.  The term probably refers to religious temptation or some such metaphor.

Did you know that Saint Patrick was not born Patrick?  His name was Maewyn Succat and he changed his name to Patrick when he answered his calling to become a priest.



Did you know that there is no direct translation for “Erin go Bragh?"  The phrase has changed over the years from the real phrase which was most likely "Éirinn go Brách" which means Ireland forever.

Did you know that the leprechaun stories with the pots of gold originally included that the leprechauns earned the gold?  They mended and made shoes and saved all the gold that they earned in little pots which they guarded for obvious reasons.  The idea that if you catch a leprechaun and take their pot of gold, seems kind of mean and bullyish once you hear that.

Did you know that the world spends around $245 million on beer for the holiday?  That doesn't even include food or tips.  That's just for the beer, baby.

Did you know that on his first trip to Ireland, St. Patrick did not arrive voluntarily?  He was a slave and he was only 16 years old.  Once he escaped, he went to Britain and took refuge in a monastery which is where he decided to join the clergy.


Did you know that St. Patrick's Day was not started in Ireland?  It was started in America in the 1700's as a way for all the Irish immigrants to display and celebrate there heritage.  It really caught on though and today is celebrated all over the world.

Did you know that the US has more Irish folks than Ireland?  There are over 30 million people of Irish descent in the US, but in Ireland there are less the 5 million Irish people.

Did you know that the first time Ireland celebrated St. Patrick's Day was 1903?  The first public celebration was in Dublin in 1910, and it was a parade.

Did you ever hear the phrase "drowning the shamrock?"  What does it mean?  Well, it's an Irish practice of putting a shamrock on top of your whiskey shot.  It is believed that if you practice this custom you will have a prosperous year.  Can't hurt.


Did you know that St. Patrick's Day is the only official day during lent that you are allowed to drink alcohol?  It is presumed that this is why it became such a well known drinking holiday. 

Did you know that the shamrock is not the official symbol of Ireland?  The harp is and you will find it on their money.  It's even the symbol on the Euro.

Did you know that there is something symbolic about Soda Bread?  I'm not a fan, and I know that sacrilegious when it comes to St. Patrick's Day, but I have had it and I did notice that X cut into the top.  It's supposed to be a cross to ward off the devil.

Did you know that corned beef and cabbage is not a tradition from Ireland?  It's from America baby.  Beef was not the norm for Irish folks in Ireland.  They ate way more pork, but here in the US, pork was once more expensive than beef.  This encouraged the Irish immigrants to use more beef and pork in their stews.  Soda bread is also an American tradition.

Did you know that the American tradition of pinching someone not wearing green on St. Patrick's Day is all about the leprechauns?  Folklore says that wearing green makes you invisible to leprechauns and that if they can see you, they will pinch you.

So, if you've enjoyed St. Patrick's Day and you've ever wondered where all the lore comes from, hopefully this will answer some of your questions.  Let's just say that it's a great international holiday and that we should all take a little time and raise a pint of Guiness in honor of a great man who brought Christianity to Ireland even though his first trip there was as a slave.  It takes a great man to go back years later and try to help the people and save them from their pagan ways.  Was it wrong to be pagan?  I don't know, but it did make for a great holiday even though no one really knows for sure where St. Patrick is buried.  They also didn't celebrate him for centuries after his death.  The other kicker for me is that the day of his death is celebrated and not his birth. But, at any rate, he is the patron saint of Ireland and people around the world celebrate this every year.  It's that one day a year that we're all a little bit Irish and there's only one thing that I can do with that thought.  I can raise a pint while having my corned beef and cabbage after seeing a parade while wearing my green.  Enjoy!


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