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10 Fun Facts About St Patrick’s Day

St Patricks day in Chicago

Well hello there, clover lovers! St. Paddy’s Day is right around the corner. And we’re SO ready to see the sea of green. Hope you’re prepared for a journey filled with pints of Guinness, four-leaf clovers, and a splash of Irish magic – because today, we’re diving into the wondrous world of some fun facts about St. Patrick’s Day!

Ever wondered why we wear green or why the US President wears a shamrock on March 17th? Grab a pint and relax, because we’re taking a deep dive into how one simple celebration turned into a global green gala.

1. The legends were a lie?

Heard about the legend that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland? Legend says the patron saint of Ireland chased the slithering reptiles into the sea because they attacked him during his 40-day fast atop a hill. 

Well, some curious archaeologists decided to dig deeper (quite literally). And from all the fossils they found, they concluded that the island of Ireland never really had any snakes. Sooo, the anecdote is mostly not true. Either way, we love a good legend.

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2. St. Patrick was actually Maewyn Succat

Long before St. Patrick became the poster child for shamrocks, he sported the name Maewyn Succat. Quite the tongue twister, isn’t it? Legend has it that he decided to change his name to ‘Patrick’ (from ‘Patricius’ in Latin, or just ‘father’) when he became a saint.

Well, St. Patrick’s Day does have a ring to it. So, next time you raise a glass to St. Patrick, remember the man who dodged pirates and switched his name game. Cheers to the original Maewyn!

3. He was British

Sorry to break it to you, but this might be one of the most unexpected facts about St. Patrick’s Day. The icon and saviour of Ireland was actually British. Yep. Most people believe he was born somewhere in the south of Wales. 

He was then captured by Irish pirates at 16 and carried into slavery (as an animal herder). But as it turns out, St. Patrick was quite the dreamer. He had visions of his escape from Ireland, and so he did. (I guess you could say he manifested it).

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4. He actually wore blue

Ready for another surprising fact about St. Patrick’s Day? He actually wore blue, not green. It’s in all of his portraits too. In fact, when George III created the Order of St Patrick, its official colour was a deep sky blue, which was called “St. Patrick’s Blue”.

So why do we all wear green? That’s because, during the 18th and 19th centuries, the colour green, the leaf clover, and St. Patrick was starting to be associated with Irish identity and a symbol of independence from the British crown.

5. It used to be a dry holiday

Be honest. What comes to mind when you think of St. Paddy’s Day? Green and alcohol. That’s why this one holds the title for the top mind-boggling fact about St. Patrick’s Day. It’s true, this national holiday in Ireland was initially a dry day.

From 1903 to 1970, it was ILLEGAL for pubs in Ireland to be open on March 17, because of the religious connotations of the holiday. So, what changed? Well, the government realised how much money they could make by keeping the pubs open. And the rest is history.

6. My goodness, the Guinness

On average, about 13 million pints of Guinness are served every year on this day. That’s nearly two and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools. Boozy.

Even though St. Patrick’s Day used to be an alcohol-free celebration, that definitely isn’t the case anymore. And if you’re interested in knowing the origin of this malty black beverage, you can tour the Guinness Storehouse on Contiki’s St. Patrick’s Day trip in Dublin.

7. People spend a LOT

Dyed rivers, dyed hair, green-coloured outfits (and even green-coloured beer?) – EVERYTHING is filled with green on March 17th. Except people’s wallets, apparently.

In 2023, US consumers planned to spend a total of approximately seven billion US dollars to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick would’ve been a rich man if he was alive today…

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8. New York loves St. Paddy

Ever since 1762 – literally, even before American Independence – there has been a parade on the streets of New York City on every St. Patrick’s Day. Talk about commitment. After all, St. Paddy was the Patron Saint of Ireland AND of the Archdiocese of New York.

The parade is a testament to the fact that everything is bigger in the US. Two million spectators, over a hundred and fifty thousand marchers, month-long preparations, thousands of volunteers. This parade is said to be the oldest and largest parade in the world.

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9. And Chicago does too…

If you ever visit Chicago in mid-March and see the Chicago River slowly turning green, don’t worry. You’re not in the middle of a zombie bio-apocalypse. No, it’s just Chicago’s way of showing its love for St. Patrick’s Day. 

That’s right. Originally, the green dye was used to identify leaks. But in 1962, the Plumbers Local Union decided to dump 100 pounds of the dye into the river for St. Patrick’s Day. The good news is that the green dye is food-grade and non-toxic. And we love the enthusiasm.

10. Or maybe just the entire country does

I think I’m seeing a pattern here. St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just about all things green and Guinness. There’s real geo-political significance here, everyone. Every year, on March 17th, the taoiseach (Prime Minister of Ireland) sends a bowl of shamrock to the US President as a gesture of goodwill. The president of the world’s richest country (at least by GDP) wears a tiny little shamrock plant in his pocket on St. Patrick’s Day. The things you do for a geopolitical show of love…

Ready to sink in the sea of green?

From snake-chasing saints to turning entire rivers green, this day is a kaleidoscope of history, folklore, and pure, unadulterated fun. So, whether you’re Irish, Irish at heart, or just looking for an excuse to wear green and have fun – St. Paddy’s Day is a celebration for everyone.

Wanna join in on the magic? You’re always welcome on our St. Patrick’s Day trip to Ireland. 

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