There are a few things we know to be true about March 17. We know we have to wear green and it’s the only day of the year when it’s acceptable to pinch people who aren’t donning the color. It’s the one day out of the year when indulging in corned beef and cabbage and a green beverage isn’t frowned upon. And you also get a free pass for searching for leprechauns and pots of gold without being called crazy. But here are five things you may not have known about St. Patrick and his holiday!
Saint Patrick was not Irish
Although he is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland, Saint Patrick was actually born in modern-day England in the fifth century! He was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave when he was 16. He worked as a sheep herder for several years and escaped back to modern-day England when he turned 22.
The Chicago River Runs Green
To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, the Chicago river is dyed green every year! Chicago city-pollution workers would use dyes to trace illegal sewage discharges in the river. When the dyes turned the river green, they realized they had a fun way to celebrate the holiday! In 1962, they used 100 pounds of green vegetable dye to color the river which kept it green for a week. These days, they only use 40 pounds of dye and the river stays green for just a few hours.
St. Patrick’s Color Wasn’t Always Green
For hundreds of years, blue was associated with St. Patrick and his holiday. However, in the 1790’s green became the dominant color of St. Patrick’s day as the holiday was used to highlight Irish nationalism against British rule.
It’s Lucky, but it’s not St. Patrick’s Flower
Four-leaf clovers have nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day! The shamrock is the leafy green flower associated with the holiday which has three leaves, not four. However if you do come across a four-leaf, clover consider yourself lucky! Your odds of finding one are about 1 in 10,000!
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the oldest civilian parade in the world and the largest in the United States! Each year, over 150,000 people participate in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City alone and nearly 3 million people line the streets to watch! Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Savannah also host great parades but with a fraction of the participants – 10,000 to 20,000 people.