Get out your green clothes and your shamrocks out because St. Patrick’s Day is here! Each year this holiday is celebrated on March 17th. Even though it’s a happy, fun time for many, it wasn’t so for the patron saint that this holiday is in honor of.
St. Patrick Before He Was A Saint
In the 4th century a man named Patrick was born. He had a difficult life and when he was a teenager he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and forced to become a slave. After 6 years of being held prisoner he was able to escape. He then returned to Britain and became a priest. Several years later he became a missionary and returned to Ireland to share the religion of Christianity to others. He stayed in Ireland for about 30 years and died on March 17th. After his death the local church canonized him. However, it wasn’t until 1737 that a day to honor him, now known as St. Patrick’s Day, was actually celebrated. The first known celebration occurred in Boston and consisted of Irish immigrants in attendance. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade didn’t occur until nearly 200 years later and was held in Dublin in 1931. Today the Irish government uses St. Patrick’s Day as a way to promote Ireland travel to the country during the month of March.
Why The Shamrock?
It is believed that St. Patrick used a shamrock to explain to the Irish what the concept of the trinity meant. Because the shamrock has 3 parts and the trinity has 3 parts, it helped St. Patrick explain this concept by having a visual tool to use. The Trifolium Dubium is the scientific name for the shamrock.
From Blue To Green
Many people actually used to wear blue to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Overtime the color green gained popularity because of Ireland being called “The Emerald Isle” and because of the clover being green. However, Ireland Catholics tend to wear green while Protestants will wear the color orange to represent being peaceful with one another. Both of these colors are present on the Irish Flag.
Leprechauns and Pinching
Back when St. Patrick’s Day was first observed it was believed that those who wore the color green were invisible to leprechauns and those that didn’t would be pinched by them. Pinching others who didn’t wear green served as a reminder that leprechauns would be able to see them and pinch them if they didn’t put something green on. According to the legends, leprechauns are only males and never females. Sorry ladies!
Where’s The Corn
Corned beef and cabbage are often served on St. Patrick’s Day. What’s interesting is that there’s not actually any corn in corned beef. The word “corn” refers to big grains of salt that were used to cure the beef.
-Even though it’s hard to believe, there are actually no snakes in all of Ireland. There is a myth that St. Patrick banished all snakes from the area because they were evil. In reality, icy waters surround Ireland so it would be pretty difficult for snakes to migrate there.
-On St. Patrick’s Day 13 million pints of the Irish beer Guinness is consumed. This is almost double the amount of this beer that is consumed on any other day.
-The city of Chicago gets very into St. Patrick’s Day and uses a nontoxic substance to dye the river green.
-A common phrase heard at many St. Patrick Day parades is the saying “Erin go Bragh”. It basically means “Ireland Forever”.
-If you want to find a shamrock you better be, well, lucky. The odds of finding one are about 1 in 10,000.
-St. Patrick’s Day is a great day for the liquor industry. It’s estimated that around $250 million dollars is spent on St. Patrick’s Day for beer alone. This is a welcome changed because up until 1970 it was actually a dry holiday.
You don’t have to be one of the 34 million Americans that are from Irish decent to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Many people wear a shamrock on their lapel to celebrate or go all out and dress in green from head to toe. If you want to learn more about Ireland, why don’t you take a trip there? Not only are the Irish friendly people, but there’s a lot to see and do there not just on St. Patrick’s Day, but throughout the year.
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