For better or worse, St. Patrick’s Day has certainly changed quite a bit since it was first established as an official Christian feast day in the 17th century. Over the years, the holiday has become less of a religious observance and more of a celebration of Irish culture. However, many of the most popular traditions and assumptions attached to St. Patrick’s Day are at odds with the true facts. In honor of St. Pat’s, here are a lucky seven facts about the day in question.
St. Patrick was a Brit
Though it may shock you, the most famous Irishman in world history was not really an Irishman. Patrick is recognized for bringing Christianity to Ireland in the year 432, but historians say he was born to Roman parents in either Scotland or Wales.
He was feeling blue, too
Wearing blue clothing on St. Patrick’s Day may get you pinched, but it would be truer to tradition. The saint was originally associated with “St. Patrick’s blue,” a dark, rich shade of blue that was adopted as the color of the Anglo-Irish “Order of St. Patrick” in the 1780s. Green became the national color of Ireland in the late 18th century, when it became associated with the Irish independence movement.
Putting the brakes on snakes myths
One of the most famous myths associated with St. Patrick is that he drove the snakes out of Ireland. According to scientists, there probably never were any snakes to begin with. According to “Popular Science,” Ireland was too cold to host any cold-blooded reptiles during the Ice Age.
The shamrock myth holds up
In terms of symbols, shamrocks actually do have a connection to St. Patrick. According to Catholic.org, St. Patrick used the shamrock to preach about the concept of the Trinity—that God, The Son and the Holy Spirit are all one. This helped convert the pagan rulers of Ireland to Christianity.
American St. Patrick’s Day celebrations may not seem as authentic as Irish ones, but some cherished traditions were actually born here in the States. According to IrishCentral.com, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York City in the 1760s.
It’s not an all-day affair for everyone
Not every city makes a big deal out of St. Patrick’s Day. According to “Mental Floss,” from 1999 to 2007, the Irish village of Dripsey was proud to lay claim to the “Shortest Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in the World,” which ran for just 26 yards between two pubs. Today, the title is now held by Hot Springs, Arkansas, where the parade runs for only 98 feet.
Make mine a double
It is no surprise that sales of the popular Irish beer Guinness increase on St. Patrick’s Day, but do you know by how much? According to IrishCentral.com, 5.5 million pints of Guinness are consumed worldwide every day. On St. Patrick’s Day, though, that figure doubles.
Have fun during St. Patrick’s Day, and remember to drink responsibly and play it safe—you don’t want to have to rely on the luck of the Irish to get through the holiday!
This article is presented by CitySide Subaru in Belmont, Massachusetts.