10 Things You Might Not Know About St. Patrick's Day

Chloe Watson, Associate Writer

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1. St. Patrick's Day has been celebrated in the United States longer than the 4th of July.

The first celebration of St. Patrick’s Day occurred in 1737, in the city of Boston. The United States did not declare independence until almost forty years later. This also marked the date of the first St. Patrick’s day parade.

2. According to folklore, St. Patrick banished snakes from Ireland.

My father, Paul Watson, is Irish, and grew up in a Catholic household. While we were discussing the holiday, he told me about an old story about St. Patrick banishing the snakes from Ireland. However, the island's climate is too cold to have ever hosted snakes, so the myth is almost certainly fictional.

3. St. Patrick was English, not Irish.

At the age of 16, he was kidnapped by pirates and worked as a slave in Ireland. After 6 years, he escaped. Later, he became a priest and returned to Ireland as a missionary.

4. St. Patrick was originally named Maewyn Succat.

However, later in his life, his name was changed. While on the topic, Maewyn's sainthood was never officially canonized by a pope. Thus, it could be argued that St. Patrick is neither a saint, nor a Patrick.

5. There are more Irish people in America than in Ireland.

About 12 percent of Americans claim Irish descent – around 34.5 million people. The population of Ireland in 2018 was only 4.8 million. This is likely due to the heavy immigration, as well as interracial marriage.

6. St. Patrick wore blue, not green.

Although it's impossible to walk into a Walmart in March without getting blasted by the color green, the color has nothing to do with St. Patrick himself. Ireland is known as “the Emerald Isle”. Combined with the shamrock he used to preach with, the holiday eventually became green-themed

7. Though originally a religious holiday celebrated by the Roman Catholic church, it was later reclassified as an Irish national holiday.

St. Patrick's Day was less designed as a celebration of St. Patrick, and more concerned with the introduction of Christianity into Ireland. As time went on, the holiday became more focused on Irish culture, with St. Patrick the figurehead.

8. The Chicago River is dyed green every year.

Every year as part of a massive, half-a-million strong celebration, the city of Chicago temporarily dyes the Chicago River bright green. Originally designed as a water pollution test, 25 pounds of vegetable-based powder are annually dumped in the river, enough to turn it green for one day. This has been a tradition since 1962.

9. One in every 10,000 clovers have four leaves.

That’s only 0.0001%, an insanely small number and insanely small odds. St. Patrick is well known for using a shamrock in his sermons as a symbol of the Trinity. The three leaves represent God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

10. March 17th is the date of St. Patrick's death.

St. Patrick was not a martyr; he lived in a time where very few Christians were killed for their faith. After a life of hardship, he died at age 76 in the year 461 AD.