2017-03-01 / Features

Why we ‘go green’ on St. Patrick’s Day…

And other little known facts about our favorite Irish holiday!!
By Kristin N. Compton

Every year in mid-March we break out our most unripe hue of apparel and accessories, as a way to blend in with what we believe to be the leprechaun’s minty shade of choice (thereby avoiding a good pinching!), clink pilsner glasses filled to the brim with Guinness, sing a round of “Danny Boy,” hope on our stars that we will one day be blessed with the luck of the Irish (or at least the finding of a good ol’ fashioned shamrock), and revel in the festivities that are St. Patrick’s Day.

But do any of us really know what we’re celebrating, or even how the celebration began?

For instance, did you know that green isn’t even the original color of

St. Patrick?

Or that the annually celebrated saint of

Ireland was actually born in Scotland?

Be prepared to look at this year’s emerald-themed bash through a new lens!

Here are some little known facts about St. Patrick’s

Day…

1 – St. Patrick wasn’t Irish. Maewyn Succat (his given name) was actually born in Scotland and later kidnapped as a teenager and sold into slavery in Ireland.

2 – St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t actually celebrate St. Patrick’s birthday but rather the day of his death. St. Patrick’s Day 2017 will be the 1,556th anniversary of his death.

3 – Green is the color we think of when we think of Ireland, known as the Emerald Isle for its lush landscaping, but it’s actually not the color of St. Patrick. The members of the Order of St. Patrick actually used St. Patrick’s blue (the British claim it’s more of a sky blue, while the Irish claim it’s more of a dark, rich blue) as its symbolic color.

4 – St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t always a celebration in America. It was observed primarily in Ireland as a day of prayer and quiet reflection of the Catholic saint known for converting Irish natives to Christianity (not driving out non-existent snakes from the island surrounded by frigid waters!). Following the arrival of large numbers of Irish immigrants to America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was transformed into a day to celebrate their Irish heritage.

5 – Corned beef and cabbage are not Irish staples. The consumption of the combination of the two on St. Patrick’s Day can be credited to Irish immigration, the lack of availability of “salt pork” in the US and bacon as being an unaffordable close substitute.

6 – The shamrock is synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day because it is said that St. Patrick utilized the three-leaf clover to explain the trinity to the druid king. But the shamrock isn’t actually the national symbol of Ireland; the harp is. And shamrocks aren’t exclusive to Ireland; they are found all over Europe. As for the fourleaf clover, you can still consider yourself lucky if you find one because the odds of doing so are said to be about 1 in 10,000.

Interesting fact: Prior to the 20th century, leprechauns were described as donning red (not green!) jackets with gold trim.

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