Every year on March 17, the Irish and the Irish-at-heart across the globe observe St. Patrick’s Day. What began as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland has become an international festival celebrating Irish culture with parades, dancing, special foods and a whole lot of green.
St. Patrick’s Day is the one day a year where everyone is a little bit Irish. In fact, almost 12 percent of Americans claim Irish ancestry and over 80 million people worldwide claim ancestral connection to theauld sod.
With St. Patrick’s Day celebrated across the world, did you ever wonder how much you actually knowabout Ireland’s biggest national holiday?
Here are 7 top facts:
1. St. Patrick was not Irish. He was from Wales.
2. The humble shamrock was originally a teaching tool. St. Patrick is said to have used the three-leaved plant to explain the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) to the pagan Irish.
3. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in New York in the 1760s.
4. For many years, blue was the color most often associated with St. Patrick. Green was considered unlucky. St. Patrick’s blue was considered symbolic of Ireland for many centuries and the Irish Presidential Standard is still blue.
5. Traditionally, every year, the Irish leader hands a crystal bowl full of shamrock to the US President. The shamrock, grown in Kerry, is immediately destroyed by the Secret Service after the exchange.
6. Irish flee the country. In Ireland on March 17 you’ll find many public figures, musicians, and dancers have traveled abroad to work on lucrative gigs elsewhere. Politicians also travel to drum up trade.
7. Guinness sales soar on St. Patrick’s Day. Recent figures show that 5.5 million pints of the black stuff are downed around the world every day. On St. Patrick’s Day that figure is doubled.