ST PATRICK’S Day is so much more than just a celebration of Ireland’s patron saint.
It’s a day for honouring Irishness in its many forms through music, food, drink and copious amounts of the colour green. But how much do you really know about St Patrick’s Day?
Have you ever stopped to separate the fact from the fiction and the history from the myth? Here are 10 things you didn’t know about St Patrick’s Day.
1. St Patrick was not called Patrick
His real name was actually Maewyn Succat
2. St Patrick was not Irish
He was actually British, having been born to Roman parents in either Scotland or Wales at some point in the late fourth century
3. Green is not the colour of St Patrick
Ireland’s patron saint was actually associated with the colour blue. That only changed in the 19th century because of the colour’s traditional links to Irish mythology.
4. The first St Patrick’s Day parade did not take place in Ireland
The very first St Patrick’s parade took place in Boston in 1737. It was organised by 27 Irish emigrants living in the US city who were eager to commemorate their heritage
5. Alcohol has always been a part of St Patrick’s Day in the US
A report from the New York Times dating back to March 1860, describes there being “a great many persons very much intoxicated” at the city’s parade with “men and women in all stages of intoxication.”
6. Alcohol has only relatively recently become a part of St Patrick’s Day in Ireland
Until the 1970s, St. Patrick's Day was considered a religious holiday in Ireland. That meant all pubs were closed by law. It was only changed later as a means of attracting tourists.
7. Corned beef and cabbage is not a traditional St Patrick’s Day dish
It’s an American creation. Ham and cabbage is eaten in Ireland, whereas corned beef and cabbage was something that became popular among Irish-Americans in the late 19th century as it was cheaper.
8. The bowl of shamrock the Taoiseach gives to the President is immediately destroyed
No one is allowed to give food or a floral gift to the US President, due to security reasons. As a result, a member of the US Secret Service will likely destroy it.
9. Ireland isn’t the only place where Patrick’s Day is a national holiday
St Patrick’s Day is also a national holiday in Montserrat, where a large number of Irish people emigrated to in the 17th century. The celebrations last an entire week and include special meals, parties and church services.
10. St Patrick never encountered any snakes or shamrocks
None of the patron saint’s writing make any reference to snakes or shamrocks. Bouth became part of the lore around St Patrick following his death.