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20 Surprising And Interesting St Patrick’s Day Facts ☘️

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St Patrick’s day is the day we all turn a bit Irish. The festival and public holiday are shared worldwide from South America to Australia. All across the world, the world goes a little green for 24 hours. And today, I am going to share 20 St Patrick’s day facts that I am sure will surprise you. 

Wondering just how long it is until St Patrick’s day 2022? See my timer here. 

Let’s get into these 20 interesting St Patrick’s day facts:

20 St Patricks day facts

1. Chicago dyes its river green every single year since 1962! 

A boat with dye in the Chicago river

The dyeing tradition became an annual thing nearly 60 years ago, in 1962. The dyeing process will begin at 9 a.m. on the morning of the parade, March 17. 

Don’t worry; the dye is environmentally friendly; the river is dyed with 40 pounds of environmentally friendly dye, which keeps the river green for four to five hours.

And in 2022, for the first time in two years, we will likely have proper St Patrick’s Day festivals around the world. This year in Chicago, the dying will begin on March 12. They have not announced the time yet. The Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union 130 will pour 50 pounds of (safe) dye into a quarter-mile stretch of the Chicago River (from Columbus Drive to State Street). 

Will you be there this year? Comment below. 

2. St Patrick’s Day was originally blue! But why was St Patrick’s day blue?

You might be saying, “No way it has always been green!!”. Historians say that during the Irish Rebellion of 1798, an uprising against British rule in Ireland, Irish soldiers wore full green uniforms on March 17 to make a political statement. As a result, the shift from blue to green happen. Some say that this is where the phrase “the emerald isle” came from. 

Then the clover became a symbol of nationalism, and the “wearing of the green” on lapels became a regular practice. Source Wikipedia

3. St Patrick’s day facts: The most popular alcoholic drink on St Patrick’s day is Guinness

An Irish pub getting ready from for St Patrick's day

Just a few kegs haha

Haha, yes, I wasn’t surprised by this fact either but did you know that on St Patrick’s day, 13 million pints of Guinness will be consumed worldwide. Will there be more in 2022? I think so! 

The average person will spend $36.50 — probably on Guinness. Overall, $4.6 billion will be spent on St. Patrick’s Day.

Source: EU APP

4. There are over 34.8 million residents with Irish ancestry!! Wow

Just to put that in perspective, it is more than seven times the population of Ireland. Irish is the second-most common ancestry among Americans, falling just behind German.

New York has the most concentrated Irish population; 12.9% of its residents claim Irish ancestry. So a big hello to any of you reading this in New York! Be sure to subscribe to my weekly dose of Irish here.

5. Where is the world’s shortest St Patrick’s day parade? 

Well, this was an interesting one, I was doing some research, and a bunch of websites claim that an Irish town Dribsy, Co Cork holds the shortest St Patrick’s day parade. But this is incorrect! 

They did hold the shortest St Patrick’s day parade until 1999 when one of the bars closed, and they had nowhere to put everyone(I am guessing this was more like not enough bar space for everyone, haha).

The parade was initially held between two pubs and was only about 90 meters long. They even had a claim in the Guinness book of records at one stage. Source: Irish Times

So, where is the shortest St Patrick’s day parade?

Smallest St Patrick's day festival

The official World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade route is 98 feet long. It is in Hot Springs, Arkansas. They have been running the event since 2003; I think I will have a visit one of these years. See their event details here.

6. The four-leaf clover and St Patrick’s day 

The big difference betwen the shamrock one very interesting St Patrick's day facts

This was another interesting St Patrick’s day fact. Did you know? The odds of finding a four-leaf clover are about are 1 in every 10000? Four-leaf clovers are associated with luck, whereas shamrocks have religious ties.

You may have read my previous article on the Irish Celtic Symbols, but the four-leaf clover is meant to represent hope, faith, love and luck. However, some would tell you that they represent fame, wealth, love and health.

Either way finding a four-leaf clover is lucky in itself. And finding one on St Patrick’s day, well, it doubles your luck! 

7. St Patrick’s Day parades began in America, not Ireland

The very first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the United States was held in Boston (1737).

Boston has long staked claim to the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the American colonies. On March 17, 1737, more than two dozen Presbyterians who emigrated from the north of Ireland gathered to honour St. Patrick and form the Charitable Irish Society to assist distressed Irishmen in the city. – Thanks to History.com for that info. 

8. St Patrick was born in England and was once a slave

St Patrick Himself - St Patrick's day facts

St. Patrick is responsible for converting the people of Ireland to Christianity. He was born in 385 AD in Britain but is not Irish. At age 16, he was brought to Ireland as an enslaved person and escaped six years later.
 
Following a vision, he returned to Ireland to Christianize the Irish people. He is also said to have driven all the snakes out of Ireland. 

9. There are only two countries in the world that have a public holiday on St Patrick’s day

Ireland(including Northern Ireland) and Montserrat(a small island in the Caribbean)

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on Montserrat to commemorate the island’s Irish history and remember the 17th March 1768 slave rebellion. On this day, visitors to the island get stamped with an Irish shamrock. It wasn’t until 1971 that the rest of the world began to take notice of this particular bit of colonial history.

Our current president of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, visited Montserrat’s island in 1986 and presented this documentary on the country. 

10. St Patrick’s day facts: It used to be a dry holiday! 

Yes, before millions of pints of Guinness were consumed, it was a non-drinking religious day. In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day didn’t become an official Irish public holiday until 1903 with the introduction of the Bank Holiday (Ireland) Act 1903. This act was introduced by Irish Member of Parliament James O’Mara, who was also responsible for the law that required the closing of pubs on March 17. Yes, the closing of pubs! 

Until the 1970s, Irish law prohibited pubs opening on March 17 as a mark of respect for this religious day. Oh, how times have changed!

11. Corned beef and cabbage(also known as bacon and cabbage) are traditional foods eaten on this holiday.

Are you enjoying these St Patrick’s day facts? Get your weekly dose of Irish straight to your inbox every Friday here.

Last week, I posted on my Facebook page asking what everyone typically eats on St Patrick’s day, and over 500 people commented Guinness! Haha. But from the Middle Ages until sometime in the 19th century, the Irish were known for producing salted meats. The closest and cheapest thing the Irish could get their hands on in terms of cured meats was salt pork — meat similar to bacon. It was a staple for the Irish and could be found in almost every home.

As the Irish migrated to the United States, they couldn’t find salt pork in their new home, and bacon, the closest substitute, was insanely expensive.

Thus, they turned to corned beef. It was the one thing Irish immigrants would eat in the U.S. because it reminded them of home. Source: Bustle.

12. The largest St Patrick’s day celebration in South America is in Argentina

St Patrick's day celebrations

Argentina is one of the most surprising countries celebrating St Patrick’s Day. 

Buenos Aires is home to the largest St Patrick’s Day celebration in South America. Several festivals and events occur across the city, including a party in the city centre. Who knew!?

13. The city of Montreal has one of the longest-running and largest St Patrick’s Day parades in North America, occurring since 1824. 

14. St Patrick’s day facts: Saint Patrick used a shamrock

St Patrick's day the Shamrock

St Patrick used a shamrock to teach the pagans about the Holy Trinity. The Shamrock is now the official flower of Ireland. It is associated with St Patrick. The harp is the official symbol of Ireland.

St. Patrick allegedly used the three-leaf clover to teach Christianity as he travelled around Ireland. He said the leaves illustrated the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit of the Holy Trinity.

It is possible that St Patrick knew the importance of the number 3 to the Celts and used the Shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. I.e. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

St Patrick's day facts: Father, Son And Holy Spirit that St Patrick used to demonstrate using the shamrock.

15. Over 100 countries around the world celebrate St Patrick’s day! 

Yes, as I mentioned earlier, it is just crazy how many countries worldwide celebrate this great day.

Probably the most surprising countries that celebrate St Patrick’s day around the world are: 

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • Singapore – Where they also dye the river green!

  • Dubai
  • Tokyo 
  • Istanbul 
  • Oslo 

And the list goes on and on! It is just incredible to see how many countries celebrate St Patrick’s day around the world. 

Other countries include New Zealand, Australia, Russia, Turkey, West Indies(Montserrat), the United States, England, Belgium, South Africa, Germany, Canada, Spain, UAE and India. 

I am sure there is plenty more to add to that list, any big ones I forgot? Let me know in the comments. 

16. Over 600 stadiums, statues, museums, and towers will light up green on St Patrick’s day! 

Including the Roman Colosseum, Leaning Tower of Pisa, and Sydney Opera House

While researching this, I was blown away by the sheer number of monuments worldwide that have gone green for St Patrick’s day. The hugely successful ‘Global Greening’ initiative will continue this year, with over 600 iconic landmark buildings around the world planned to be lit up green to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. Just incredible

17. St Patrick’s name was originally Maewyn Succat 😲 

Saint Patrick was born Maewyn Succat and took the name ‘Patricius’ in his writings.

 In Old Irish, this name translates to Patraic, which is Patrick in English. Could you imagine celebrating St Maewyn Succat day, haha?

Saint Patrick spent the rest of his life in Ireland. He preached the Gospel and built Churches across the country. He died March 17, 461, in Saul – the city in which he had built his first church. 

18. Over 5.5 million people visit New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral each year.

And more than 450 churches are named for St Patrick in the United States.

19. This year, over 1 million people will participate in the St Patrick’s day festival in Dublin! 

Keep in mind that it is over two days from the 15th – 17th March. Details of what’s on here. 

20. St. Patrick is said to have been buried in Downpatrick, County Down, in Northern Ireland.

What fact about St Patrick’s day did you enjoy the most? 

You might also like to listen to quality Irish music for St Patrick’s day here.

If you are reading this on St Patrick’s day, get out there and have some fun! 

Thanks for stopping by,

Stephen 

P.S Don’t forget, get your weekly dose of Irish here(a free email every Friday on all things Irish)

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KENNY THOMPSON

Friday 18th of March 2022

Even though I was born & Bred in TOXTETH in Liverpool my mother was a McCormack from CORK, S-Ireland. My Father was Born near GLASGOW, Scotland. I was born in ENGLAND & moved out to WALES 50 years ago. Does this make me A MUTT??? On my FOUR journeys to KENTUCKY, USA the locals there think it is an amazing story as most of them have similar backgrounds. Having said all that, I really am proud of my heritage. And in remembrance of my mother, every week I get a copy of an Irish Newspaper called IRELANDS OWN, it takes me right back to the days when I was little in Liverpool & the stories that my MAMA used to tell me of her IRISH upbringing & the HOOLIES that she had on ST PATRICKS DAY & so did we in LIVERPOOL. IF you are IRISH & reading this why not subscribe to IRELANDS OWN newspaper, I guarantee YOU will just love it!!! Kenny Thompson.

Tom Eustace

Saturday 21st of March 2020

I understood from my youth in Ireland - that the 4 leaf clover represents the 4 provinces in Ireland. Munster - Leinster - Ulster & Connaught.

John Powell

Sunday 6th of March 2022

@Tom Eustace,

Hi Tom,

I hate to be a killjoy but it is Connacht.

John

Richard McCreery

Sunday 8th of March 2020

Mexico celebrates St. Patrick’s Day because of when The Irish joined the Mexican army in the Mexican/American war. The reason why the Irish joined was because the US Army majority was Protestant, and the Catholic servicemen felt marginalized and reminded of their experience under Protestant British rule in Ireland, so they fled to Catholic confines of Mexico.

Gregorio Calleja

Sunday 8th of March 2020

The first St. Patrick's Parade in the US was not in Boston. It was in 1600 in St.Augustine, Florida. An Irish priest living in Puerto Rico by the name of Fr. Richard Arthur arrived to St. Augustine. He started the devotion to St. Patrick and the first St, Patrick's Day was in 1600. The following year there was the first St. Patrick's Parade that included fireworks as can be demonstrated in the bill of expenses found by some American scholar in the Archives of Indes in Seville, Spain. This priest changed his name to Ricardo Arturo (Spanish translation of Richar Arthur). Interestingly St. Patrick was name the patron of corn (maize) growers. I am including a link of Senator Nelson (Florida) where he announced to the US Senate. https://youtu.be/ME7EHE5e4UY

Irish Around The World

Sunday 8th of March 2020

Wow didn't know that. Thanks very much for sharing. I will take a look at the video.

S Daniels

Thursday 14th of March 2019

Thank you so much for your articles! I enjoy every one!

Irish Around The World

Thursday 14th of March 2019

Glad you enjoy them! Thanks for commenting! :)