Tag: st pattys day

St. Patrick’s Day Facts

Each March 17th, people the world over slip into something green, take in a neighborhood parade and enjoy StPatrick‘s Day festivities. A day to honor Ireland’s patron saint, StPatrick‘s Day is ripe with traditions and history, much of which is largely unknown to the celebrating masses. In honor of StPatrick‘s Day, the following are some handy pieces of trivia to impress friends and family each day of March leading up to the big day.

1. StPatrick was not Irish. He was born in Britain to an aristocratic family. His early life was not particularly religious, but he had a religious conversion in his teenage years.

2. The largest StPatrick‘s Day Parade is not held in Ireland. That honor belongs to New York City, where the annual StPatrick‘sDay Parade draws more than a million spectators each year.

guiness3. Thirteen million pints of Guinness are consumed on StPatrick‘sDay. That’s double the amount consumed on other days.

4. Although many people wear some form of green in honor of St.Patrick‘s Day, green was once considered an unlucky color in Ireland.

5. The city of Chicago really gets into the festivities, going so far as to dye the Chicago River green, which the city has been doing since 1962.

6. Evidence suggests there never were any actual snakes for St.Patrick to drive out of Ireland. It stands to reason snakes were a metaphor for the evil of paganism.

7. There are roughly 33 million U.S. residents of Irish ancestry. That number is nearly 9 times the population of Ireland.clovers

8. StPatrick was not the first person to bring Christianity to Ireland, as monasteries had been built long before StPatrick‘s arrival.

9. In Ireland, StPatrick‘s Day has traditionally been a religious occasion. Until the 1970s, many stores and pubs were closed. Laws were changed in 1995.

10. There are about 60 churches and cathedrals named for St.Patrick in Ireland. One of the most famous is StPatrick‘s Cathedral in Dublin.

11. Each year, members of the Shamrock Club in New London, Wisconsin, change highway signs so the town name reads New Dublin.

12. StPatrick‘s Day is a national holiday in the Caribbean nation of Montserrat.

13. Some lore regarding StPatrick says he raised people from the dead.

14. Soda bread is a variety of quick breads where baking soda, and not yeast, is used as the leavening agent.

15. Three-hundred species of plants are considered clover.

16. Blue was the original color associated with StPatrick.

17. The city of Montreal, Canada, uses a shamrock in its city flag. TF143004

Why Shamrocks are “Lucky”

Various symbols and imagery breathe life into St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. In addition to Kelly green clothing, leprechauns and Irish flags, shamrocks are commonly seen decorating homes and people.

The word “shamrock” comes from the Irish seamrog, which is the diminutive form for the Irish word for clover, and translates roughly to “young clover.” Clover is a grass-like plant, and bees frequently use clover flowers as a prime source of pollen for honey production.

Three- and four-leaf clovers are a stable of Irish imagery and are commonly referenced upon the arrival of St. Patrick’s Day. Prior to Christianity and the work of St. Patrick, the Druids believed that they could thwart evil spirits and danger by carrying a shamrock. A three-leaf shamrock would enable them to see the evil spirits and escape in time. A four-leaf clover was said to ward off bad luck and offer magical protection. The Druids helped establish the clover as a Celtic charm, and other folklore indicates clovers helped people see fairies and chase the little sprites.

cloverAround 400 AD, in many areas of the world, including Ireland, pagan beliefs were being pushed out in favor of Christianity. The Irish were slowly converted to a new method of thinking, and this included a new way of looking at some once-popular Pagan symbolism. According to Christian teachings, Eve is said to have carried a four-leaf clover out of the Garden of Eden when Adam and she were cast out by God. Some believe that those who grasp four-leaf clovers hold a bit of paradise in their hands. Some Christians also thought clovers were a symbol of the Holy Trinity, and some stories suggest that St. Patrick used a shamrock to teach principles of the Trinity to the masses. A three-leaf clover represents the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Should a four-leaf clover be found, it is considered the Trinity plus God’s grace. The four-leaf clover looks like a cross, giving four leaf clovers special meaning to some people.

Of course, the rarity of four-leaf clovers makes some people who find them feel as if luck is on their side. Among naturally occurring clovers, the odds of finding a four-leaf clover instead of the more common three-leaf clover is 10,000 to 1. It may take some effort and quite a bit of luck to locate one with four leaves, and a five-leaf clover is considered by many to be unlucky.

Since the 18th century, the shamrock has been a symbol of Ireland. It was used as an emblem by rival militias and later was incorporated into the Royal Coat of Arms in the United Kingdom, alongside the rose of England and thistle of Scotland.   [TF143998]