20 Things You Might Not Know About St. Patrick’s Day

Many people around the world use the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day as a fun time to wear green and celebrate their Irish (or what they wish was) heritage. Though mostly fun and games, here are a few fun facts about what the day is and how it is celebrated around the world.

  1. Since 1962, Chicago has dyed its river green every year on St. Patrick’s Day. Thankfully, they use about 40lbs of an environmentally safe dye that keeps the river flowing green for 4-5 hours during its annual parade.
  2. St. Patrick’s Day was originally celebrated in BLUE! Historians say that during the Irish Rebellion in 1798, an uprising against British rule, Irish soldiers wore full green uniforms on March 17th to make a political statement and since, the shift from blue to green. Some even believe that is where the phrase “the emerald isle” came from. Since, the clover has become a symbol of nationalism and the wearing of “green” on lapels became a regular practice.
  3. The most popular alcoholic drink on St. Patrick’s Day is… Guinness. This probably comes as no surprise but around the world, 13 million pints of Guinness will be consumed.
  4. There are currently 34.8 million people with Irish Ancestry. Just for some perspective, that is 7 times the population of Ireland and it is the second most common ancestry among Americans, falling just behind German. New York has the most concentrated Irish population at 12.9% of its residents claiming Irish ancestry.
  5. The world has a shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade, and it’s in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The parade route is 98 feet long and has been running since 2003.
  6. The odds of finding a four-leaf clover are 1 in 10,000. Four leaf clovers are said to represent hope, faith, love and luck where others say they represent fame, wealth, love and health. Either way, finding a four-leaf clover is lucky it itself with those odds.
  7. St. Patrick’s Day parades didn’t begin in Ireland, but rather America. On March 17th, 1737, more than two dozen Presbyterians that had emigrated from the north of Ireland gathered in honor of St. Patrick to assist distressed Irishmen in the city to form the Charitable Irish Society and from that, the celebrations were born.
  8. St. Patrick was actually born in England. St. Patrick was responsible for converting the people of Ireland to Christianity but was brought to Ireland at age 16 as an enslaved person, where he eventually escaped 6 years later. He is also said to have driven the snakes out of Ireland, but there are conflicting reports whether there were snakes there at the time.
  9. There are only two countries in the world that have a public holiday on St. Patrick’s Day… Ireland (including Northern Ireland) and Montserrat (a small Caribbean Island). It is celebrated in Monserrat to commemorate the Irish history as well as the slave rebellion.
  10. It used to be a dry holiday. Before all those millions of pints of Guinness were consumed, St. Patrick’s day was a non-drinking religious holiday. It wasn’t until 1903 that is became an official Irish public holiday which came with the law that required the closing of the pubs on March 17th and it stayed that way until the 1970s.
  11. Corned beef and cabbage are the traditional foods eaten St. Patrick’s Day. Originally the Irish were known for producing salted meats and the closest and easiest thing for the Irish to get their hands on was salt pork (similar to bacon). In America, the Irish couldn’t find salt pork and bacon was insanely expensive so they turned to corned beef, that reminded the immigrants of home.
  12. The largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in South America is in Argentina.
  13. The city of Montreal has one of the longest-running and largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in North America occurring since 1824.
  14. St. Patrick used a shamrock to teach pagans about the Holy Trinity when converting them to Christianity. The shamrock is now the official flower of Ireland while the harp is the official symbol.
  15. Over 100 countries around the world celebrate the holiday. Some of the most surprising countries include: Argentina, Singapore (who also dyes their river green), Dubai, Tokyo, Istanbul and Norway.
  16. Over 600 stadiums, statues, museums and towers will light up green on St. Patrick’s Day. These include the Roman Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Sydney Opera House.
  17. St. Patrick’s name was originally Maewyn Succat. He took the name Patricius in his writings and spent the rest of his life in Ireland, preaching the Gospel and building Churches across the country. He died on March 17th, 461 in Saul, the same city that he built his first church.
  18. Over 5.5 million people visit New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral each year, and even more visit the over 450 churches also named for him around the United States.
  19. This year, over 1 million people will participate in the St. Patrick’s day festival in Dublin which lasts over 2 days from the 15th – 17th of March.
  20. St. Patrick is said to be buried in Downpatrick, County Down in Northern Ireland.

We hope you learned something new about the holiday and have a fun and safe celebration this year!

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