Things You Might Not Know About St. Patrick’s Day
Things You Might Not Know About St. Patrick’s Day. St Patrick’s day is just around the corner, and we’re very excited about this one. For the first time in three years, real parades and celebrations are back! As much as we appreciated video calls and live streams, we are more than ready to be sociable!
Most Irish workers will also enjoy an extra bank holiday this year, on Friday the 18th March, for an extra long weekend. This was recently confirmed as a once-off holiday to commemorate those who lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, and also in recognition of our incredible front-line workers who have done so much for Ireland, especially during these past couple of years.
Retailers have been busy arranging special promotions, decking out their stores and window displays with green, white, and gold, and stocking up on all the things we enjoy for the occasion (mainly party food, drinks, and all things green, let’s be honest). Meanwhile, we’ll be heading for our local parade in Galway this year https://www.galwaytourism.ie/event/st-patricks-day-festival/
Forecasts suggest it will be a chilly but mostly dry day across the country, and being Irish, we’ll wrap up warm and take that.
In the spirit of the event, we bring you a few facts about St Patricks Day that you might not already know. Maybe they’ll come in handy for your next table quiz.
St. Patrick wasn’t Irish
Originally named Maewyn Succat, the man we know as St. Patrick was born around 385 A.D. in Roman Britain. Kidnapped by raiders at the age of 16, he was brought to Ireland where he spent six years as a slave.
He worked as a shepherd during this time, and it’s likely that he was held in Co. Mayo.
After escaping to Britain, Patrick had a vision telling him to return to Ireland as a Christian Missionary, and he trained for 15 years before returning to Ireland to convert the Irish to Christianity. He changed his name to Patricius, the Latin term for ‘father figure’, once he became a priest.
St. Patrick was never actually canonised as a saint
Although he is known as the Patron Saint of Ireland, St. Patrick was never actually canonised by the Catholic Church. There wasn’t any formal canonisation process during his time as a priest, and he has simply proclaimed a saint by popularity.
He is believed to have died on 17th March around 460 A.D., the date we now celebrate in Ireland as an annual religious holiday.
He didn’t actually banish any snakes from Ireland
As with so many old tales and legends, the stories change or become exaggerated over time, and this one is no different.
Legend has it that St. Patrick delivered a sermon that drove the island’s serpents into the sea.
However, the snake story is more likely a metaphor for St. Patrick’s eradication of pagan beliefs. Ireland has, thankfully, always been snake-free due to its location and climate.
He also didn’t bring Christianity to Ireland, as there were already a small number of Christians living in Ireland before he arrived. However, he is credited for the spread of Christianity in Ireland.
By incorporating Irish culture into Christian teachings, Christianity became more acceptable to Irish followers of nature-based pagan practices.
St Patrick’s Day is traditionally a quiet affair
Historically, this was a day for quiet religious observance. That was until the first public celebration in 1737 – in Boston!
The event became so popular it eventually spread beyond the U.S. and was made a National Holiday in Ireland in 1903. The pubs were still closed by law on St. Patrick’s Day until 1973 though.
St Patrick wore blue, not green
There’s some debate about the reasons that green became synonymous with St. Patricks Day, but the man himself wore blue, not green.
The colour green might be a hat tip to the shamrocks he reportedly used in his teachings, but it’s now more commonly thought that it came about in the 18th century during the struggle for Irish independence.
American traditions differ from Irish traditions
As St. Patrick’s Day celebrations surprisingly began in the U.S., not Ireland, it may not be a surprise that some traditions now differ between the countries.
Corned beef and cabbage is the dish of choice in the U.S., replacing bacon and cabbage in Ireland. Irish immigrants used to substitute bacon for corned beef to save money, and the tradition stuck there.
In the U.S., everything that can be made green, becomes green. Green dye is used in everything from pints to rivers, and there’s no mistaking the day that’s being celebrated. The Irish however, don’t like to mess with their drinks and you would struggle to find anything dyed green for the occasion. There are Irish flags in abundance though.
If you want to raise the blood pressure of an Irish person on St Patrick’s Day, simply shorten the name to St. Patty’s Day! This version is commonly used in the U.S., however, as the traditional Irish spelling of Patrick is ‘Pádraig’, the shortened Irish version is ‘Paddy’. A ‘Patty’ in Ireland is burger meat.
The one thing we can all agree on though is Guinness as the drink of choice, and it’s estimated that 13 million pints will be consumed around the world on St. Patrick’s Day. That extra bank holiday might come in handy this year.
Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit! ☘️
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About the author:
Susan McGuire has been with Retail Solutions for 6 years, and during that time has had roles in the areas of Maintenance, Finance, & Marketing. You can follow her on LinkedIn!