Although St. Patrick’s Day’s origins are deeply rooted in Irish culture and Catholicism, everyone becomes an honorary Irishman on March 17th. As we prepare to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, we thought it might be fun to share some interesting facts about the holiday’s origins, symbols and traditions:
- Saint Patrick, who lived during the fifth century, is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland.
- St. Patrick’s Day is a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide. Many believe it’s celebrated on March 17th each year to mark the day St. Patrick died.
- Irish folklore tells that one of St. Patrick’s teaching methods included using the three leaves of a native Irish clover, the shamrock, to explain the Christian concept of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) to the Irish people.
- The first parade honoring St. Patrick’s Day took place in the United States – not Ireland. On March 17, 1762, Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City, to boost morale and reconnect with their Irish roots.
- The world-famous Blarney Stone, located on the top story of Blarney Castle, is said to give the gift of eloquence to all who kiss it – which is no simple task. You have to sit with your back to the stone while a friend sits on your legs or firmly holds your feet. Then you lean back and down into the darkness between the castle’s 18-foot-thick walls, grasp the iron rails, lower yourself until your head is even with the stone, and plant your kiss.
- Every St. Patrick’s Day, Chicago dyes the Chicago River green. The practice started in 1962, when city pollution-control workers used dyes to trace illegal sewage discharges. After seeing the color the river turned, they realized that the green dye might provide a unique way to celebrate the holiday. So, they released 100 pounds of green vegetable dye into the river that St. Patrick’s Day – enough to keep it green for a week! Today, less than half that amount is used (to minimize environmental damage), but it still turns the river turns green for several hours.