5 Things You Didn't Know About St. Patrick's Day

Every year on March 17th, many of us celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Chicago dyes their river green, NYC hosts a parade that draws almost 2 million spectators, and on the Caribbean island of Montserrat it's an official holiday. We're all familiar with the holiday, but here are 5 things you probably didn't know about St. Patrick's Day.

St. Patrick Was Not Irish

St. Patrick was not an Irishman - and originally his name wasn't even Patrick. He was born in Roman Britain and according to legend named Maewyn Succat. As a teenager, he was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland. After several years he escaped back to his homeland then came back to Ireland as a priest now named Patricius, where he's credited for introducing Christianity.

Green is Not the Color Associated with Saint Patrick

Nowadays we all associate the color green with Saint Patrick's Day. But for over 1,000 years, St. Patrick's color was a shade of sky blue. It wasn't until the 18th century that the color de rigeur for St. Patrick's Day became green.

The First St. Patrick's Day Parade was not in Ireland

The first recorded St. Patrick's Day parade was in 1737 in Boston, Massachusetts. Ireland's first St. Patrick's Day parade wasn't until almost 200 years later in 1931. NYC had the first planned St. Patrick's Day parade in 1762 and today hosts the largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the world.

All of Ireland's Bars Were Closed on St. Pat's until 1961

People like to drink on St. Patrick's Day - a lot. Guinness beer consumption grows from 5.5 million pints a day worldwide to 13 million pints (more than double). But because St. Patrick's Day occurs during Lent, all-night partying was considered excessive. So after it became an official public holiday in 1903, pubs in Ireland were forced by law to close on March 17th. It wasn't until 1961* that the law was repealed and pubs could welcome St. Patrick's Day revelers again.

Corned Beef and Cabbage are an American Tradition

In the United States the traditional St. Patrick's Day fare is corned beef and cabbage. You can find it in just about any Irish restaurant or pub and any St. Patrick's Day celebration. But corned beef and cabbage are an Irish American tradition. In Ireland it's definitely not the customary St. Patrick's Day meal. Instead, a typical Irish meal would feature lamb, pork or fish.

So now you know. Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

Photo 1: via travel blog johnnybackhand.blogspot.com; Photo 2: via FirstPoint USA ; Photo 3: via theheritagecook.com
*some sources say 1961 others say 1970 - we're quoting the Irish Independent
Post by Anis Salvesen.