Five Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know About St. Patrick’s Day
by Maia Muttoo Mar 11, 2019
In honour of this weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day holiday, here are five interesting facts you didn’t know about the festival.
Green Wasn’t Always St. Patrick’s Colour
Today, the colour green is widely associated with St. Patrick’s Day, but did you know that the festival’s traditional colour is blue? The pale shade called Saint Patrick’s blue was historically worn on his feast day. It wasn’t until the Irish independence movement of the 18th century that the festival became linked to the green of the “Emerald Isle”.
Irish Patrick Was Actually Born British Maewyn
St. Patrick was born in 4th century Britain and named Maewyn Succat by his aristocratic Christian parents. Disinterested by Christianity in his early years, Maewyn grew in faith after being kidnapped and forced to tend sheep in Ireland. He escaped after seven years and found passage back to England where he reunited with his family. He was compelled to return to Ireland, where he was ordained as a priest under the name Patricius and began attempting to convert the Irish population to Christianity.
Chicago Dyes Its River Green
Many American cities, including Chicago, Boston and New York, boast large Irish communities. The Windy City takes its celebration of St. Patrick’s Day seriously. Every year since 1962, the city has dyed the Chicago River green in honour of the holiday. Don’t worry, environmentalists; city officials now use a vegetable-based dye that isn’t harmful to the environment.
Shamrocks and Four-Leaf Clovers
Why are shamrocks associated with St. Patrick? Legend has it that he used the three leaves of a shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The shamrock is now the national emblem of Ireland! The lucky four-leaf-clover is also used as a metaphor: the four segments represent hope, faith, love and luck.
From Dry to Boozy
St. Patrick’s Day was once observed as a strictly religious holiday, which meant no alcohol. Today, it’s one of the booziest. Beer is now a staple of the celebration, with most drinkers favouring Irish brands like Guinness. 2012 estimates for the United States alone showed that $245 million was spent on beer on St. Patrick’s Day. That’s quite the bar tab.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!