Grab your green, find some shamrocks, and celebrate!  St. Patrick’s Day is a fun day for anyone, Irish or not…but how did it become such a big party that it is today?

It started as a feast day in honor of St. Patrick (the patron saint of Ireland).  Ironically, he wasn’t even Irish.  He was born in Britain and was kidnapped and brought to Ireland, managed to escape and reunite with his family, only to go back to Ireland due to a voice in his dreams.  He then became a priest and spent his life converting the Irish to Christianity.

Now, the fun facts:

  • Much to popular belief, he, in fact, did not drive all the snakes out of Ireland.  The frigid waters surrounding Ireland make it too cold for snakes.  This belief is merely a metaphor for ridding Ireland of its old and evil ways.
  • March 17th is actually the date of St. Patrick’s death, and although St. Patrick himself was widely forgotten, the date became a feast day.
  • America is responsible for turning St. Patrick’s Day into the big party we know today.
  • Why wear green?  No real reason, but green is featured in the Irish flag, Ireland is nicknamed the Emerald Isle, green represents spring and it’s the color of shamrocks.  So it became a myth, that if you didn’t wear green, you risk being pinched (another American tradition)….
  • Shamrocks (three-leaf clovers), according to legend, represent the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and St. Patrick used them to convert people to Christianity.
  • Leprechauns are not real – so sad to say.  Irish folklore states that leprechauns stored their profits in pots at the end of rainbows and scattered them in mountains, forests, and rocks.  Thus the tales that there is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow and that leprechauns bring you good luck.  Just think how rich we could all be!
  • Let’s not forgot about the traditional corned beef and cabbage served on St. Patrick’s Day – however, instead of corned beef, bacon was used because cows were not generally used for their meat in Gaelic Ireland.  Yet another tradition created by the Americans which stemmed from the Irish immigrants in New York buying meat from kosher butchers.  In Ireland today, the traditional meal is still bacon or lamb.
  • Dyeing the river green also was started in America (Chicago) back in 1962.  No real reason for it other than the mayor wanted to do it.  So the tradition has continued every year since then, dumping vegetable powder into the river until the river runs green.

St. Patrick’s Day has it’s beginnings in modest Irish folklore, but today has become a day to let loose and have some fun.

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