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Did you ever wonder about St. Patrick’s Day and how it started? Did you ever wonder about the color green used in the celebration? Here are some St. Patrick’s Day Fun Facts in honor of the upcoming holiday!

Most people know that St Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious holiday celebrating the Patron Saint of Ireland, St. Patrick, but did you know St. Patrick was not Irish?

Saint Patrick (known as Magonus Socatus before sainthood) was born in 5th century Roman Britain but was captured and brought to Ireland as a slave at age 16. He escaped, but later returned as a missionary and is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. It is believed he died on March 17th, 461. For hundreds of years he was forgotten, but then resurrected as the Patron Saint of Ireland in the early 17th century, hence the celebration of St Patrick’s Day on March 17th, the day he died.

st patricks day hat

Shamrocks refer to many plants not just one.

There still is no scientific consensus as to the precise botanical species of clover that is the true shamrock. The word shamrock refers primarily to the young springs of white or red clover, but sometimes the term is applied to a variety of three-leaved plants found in Ireland. The shamrock was originally associated with the Goddess of Ireland, Ana, but over time it became associated with St. Patrick’s Day because it is believed that Saint Patrick used the three-leafed clover to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish. For good luck, the shamrock is usually included in an Irish bride’s bouquet and the boutonniere of the groom regardless of the day they marry.

St Patricks day pancakes

The color of Saint Patrick was blue not green.

A particular blue hue was known as St. Patrick blue and for hundreds of years it was this blue that was associated with the holiday. However, green became the dominant color of St Patrick’s Day over time as the holiday was used to highlight Irish nationalism against British rule in the 1790s. Now, the color green is often associated with the other more poetic name for Ireland, the Emerald Isles.

The St. Patrick‘s Day parade was invented in the United States.

On March 17, 1762, Irish soldiers serving in the English army marched through New York City. The parade and accompanying music helped the soldiers celebrate with their Irish roots, as well as reconnect with fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.

Kelly Green Tablecloth

Chicago dyes its river green on St. Patrick’s Day.

Yes, for decades, Chicago has turned its river neon green every St. Patrick’s Day. At first I was horrified, but then I happily learned that the city uses natural veggie dye. The practice started in 1962 when city workers started using dyes to trace illegal sewage discharges and realized that the green dye would be a unique way to celebrate March 17th in this very Irish city. During their first attempt, they released enough green vegetable dye (100 pounds) into the river to keep it green for a week. Today, with an eye towards environmental caution, only 40 pounds of dye are used, and the river turns green for only several hours.

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