Key Facts About St. Patrick’s Day

  • Saint Patrick’s Day honors the introduction of Christianity to Ireland by Saint Patrick, a figure who was originally Roman, not Irish.
  • While commonly associated with the color green, Saint Patrick traditionally wore blue, which was also featured in Ireland’s historic coat-of-arms.
  • The modern celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, including parades and green beer, actually started in the United States, not Ireland.
  • Ireland’s population is about 4.2 million, but there are an estimated 34 million Americans with Irish ancestry.
  • The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in Boston in 1737, while the largest is in New York.
  • Chicago celebrates by dyeing its river green, a unique tradition that captures the festive spirit of the day.
  • The American Irish meal of corned beef and cabbage originated due to the affordability of corned beef in the U.S., diverging from the Irish tradition of ham and bacon.
  • Leprechauns, part of Celtic folklore, are considered mascots of the holiday and are said to make shoes and store gold coins in pots.

Discovering the Magic of St. Patrick’s Day

“Saint Patrick’s Day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, as well as celebrating the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks.” (Wikipedia)

Technically Saint Patrick was not Irish, he was Roman.

It is reported that he was sold into slavery in Ireland and brought Christianity to Ireland. Legend also states Saint Patrick drove snakes out of Ireland and to the sea, but snakes are not found in Ireland – it is one of the only places you will not find snakes.

Blue was also the original color associated with St. Patrick, as most artwork depicting Saint Patrick shows him in blue vestments. Blue was also the color of Ireland’s coat-of-arms. Green became the official color of Ireland when it was described as the “Emerald Isle”.

Another interesting “Irish” fact – there are more Irish in the USA than in Ireland. The population of Ireland is approximately 4.2 million and there are an estimated 34 million Americans of Irish ancestry.

The celebration of St Patrick’s Day as we in America know it (green beer, parades, corned beef and cabbage) actually began in the United States to celebrate Irish-American heritage.

Chicago River
Chicago River

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in Boston in 1737. The largest St. Patrick’s Day parade is in New York.

Though the City of Chicago takes its celebration several steps further by dying the Chicago River green to celebrate every year. (Watch a time-lapse video of the dying of the river here.)

Corned beef and cabbage originated in the United States. Beef was not easily obtained in Ireland, ham and bacon were the meats most used. However, when the Irish immigrants came over to America corned beef was cheap and easily obtained, thus this became the meal of choice for Irish-Americans.

While shamrocks and the color green are most associated with St. Patrick’s Day, leprechauns are the mascot of the day. Leprechaun comes from an Irish word that means “small-bodied fellow” and likely originated in the Celtic belief in fairies. Leprechauns were first talked about in the 8th Century and they are said to spend their time making shoes and storing coins in hidden pots.

Enjoy your celebration today – have some Corned Beef & Cabbage!

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Read more: St. Patricks Day Marketing Ideas for Small Business