“Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day”, or so the saying goes! But do you know all the facts about the actual holiday?
The Feast of St. Patrick is actually a religious holiday in Ireland, similar to Christmas and Easter; it is also a celebration of Ireland itself. St. Patrick-who was not actually born in Ireland, but in Britain. He was enslaved by pirates at the age of 16; after receiving a vision from God, he spent many years preaching the gospel throughout Ireland and converting thousands to Christianity. Legend has it that the patron saint of Ireland also drove all of the snakes out of Ireland.
The very first St. Patrick’s Day parade was not held in Ireland, however–it happened in New York City in 1762. More than 100 American cities hold a parade each year, with the largest parade being in New York City–over one million spectators turn out to line the streets! Savannah, Boston, and of course, Chicago rank as some of the bigger parades held in the country, and, since 1962, the city of Chicago also dyes the Chicago River green in honor of the day!
Did you know that there are 33.7 million US residents who can claim some Irish ancestry? That is almost nine times the population of Ireland itself!
Leprechauns are actually, according to Irish folklore, fairies and shoe-makers.
The traditional symbol of St. Patrick’s Day–the shamrock–is not the “lucky” four-leaf clover, but the three-leaf shamrock. According to legend, St. Patrick use these shamrocks to teach children about the Holy Trinity. If you ever do find an actual four-leaf clover, consider yourself to be truly lucky–there are about 10,000 three-leaf shamrocks to every four-leaf clover!
So go ahead and raise a pint, or enjoy a Shamrock shake, and celebrate the day! Erin go Bragh and Ireland forever!