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Eight Fun Facts about St. Paddy and His Day – Happy St. Patrick’s Day Montserrat!

by Lou-Ann Jordan Mar 6, 2023

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St. Patrick’s Day, 17 March, is a day of merriment that commemorates Ireland’s patron saint. On the Emerald Isle, it is a national festival that is religiously based. Yet, also celebrated in many other countries, like the US, here in Montserrat and Grenada’s parish of St. Patrick, it is more of a cultural affair.

On our island, we celebrate the holiday in grand style. It’s a week-long cultural spectacle that fuses our European and African heritage. However, in some other countries, the celebration is a bit more subdued with people of Irish descent hitting the bars. Nevertheless, the proclivity for light-heartedness and merrymaking are the same.  

Of course, as is customary, we will take to the streets to enjoy one of our well-loved annual traditions. But first, let’s look at some of the questions that surround the holiday and the saint. Here are eight fun facts about St. Patrick’s Day and some traditions that are associated with the holiday. 

Why the overwhelming use of ‘green’?

No colour is more visible than green on St. Patrick’s Day. It is believed that this is because of Ireland, which is also called the Emerald Isle. The name was given for the island’s lush, green topography. However, many of us may not be aware that blue was the original colour associated with St. Patrick’s Day. The colour switch occurred in the 18th century.

How did the corned beef and cabbage tradition originate?

In America, people of Irish descent enjoy a traditional meal that includes corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. The tradition arose from Irish immigrants’ reinterpretation of their customs. Irish Americans instituted a new practice in which pork and cabbage were traded for beef and potatoes, both of which would have been decidedly cheaper.

What was St. Patrick’s real name?

St. Patrick’s real name was Maewyn Succat. He’s said to have changed it to Patricius (Patrick) after becoming a priest.

Which country was St. Patrick’s from?

Although the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick, was born in Britain and moved to Ireland in his teens.

What was St. Patrick known for?

St. Patrick is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. At his death, 29 years later, he is said to have left numerous churches, schools, and monasteries he helped establish.

Did St. Patrick use the four-leaf clover or the shamrock?

Though the four-leaf clover is generally associated with the holiday, St. Patrick is said to have used a shamrock, or three-leaf clover which was representative of the Trinity. Additionally, the term shamrock is Gaelic in origin meaning ‘little clover’.

What is the customary St. Patrick’s Day attire?

It’s not uncommon to see people dressed in kilts in observance of St. Patrick’s Day; however, léines (lane-ahs) were the traditional dress of the Irish. In the 20th century, along with the solid-coloured kilts, usually saffron in colour, tartans were worn. The Irish tartan is based on districts and counties, though some are according to clan or name.

What are some countries with surprisingly grand St. Patrick celebrations?  

Montserrat is among a few places that unexpectedly have huge St. Patrick’s Day observances. Several honourable mentions are Montreal, Winnipeg, Moscow and South Korea.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!