Growing up in New York, St. Patrick’s Day was a big deal in my house. I hunted Leprechaun gold at school, put on my greenest, most festive shirt, and went out with my family to the NYC St. Paddy’s Day Parade.
But if you weren’t so lucky to grow up celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a few things you might not know about the Irish festival!
1. The arrival of Christianity in Ireland
Made a feast day by the Catholic Church in the 17th century, St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. However…
2. Cultural Heritage
…many people would agree that St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of Irish heritage and all things Éire.
3. Out of Ireland
As you probably already know, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations permeate the world far outside of Ireland.
The day is also widely celebrated in areas that experienced an influx of immigrants during the Irish diaspora, including Great Britain, Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand– and even in Argentina!
4. Lá Fhéile Pádraig
Looking to brush up on your Irish?
In Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is known as Lá Fhéile Pádraig, or the Day of the Festival of Patrick. Speaking of which…
5. Head out to a céilí
A céilí, or a Irish or Scottish social gathering, is a popular way to celebrate the day.
At these parties, it’s typical to find all things traditionally Gaelic, including traditional folk music, dance, and food.
Though not as widely celebrated as they once were, Cèilidhean can still be found in small forms, particularly in the Irish countryside.
6. Rivers run green
In Chicago, the Chicago River is dyed green each year for St. Patrick’s Day.
The tradition began in 1961, and the dye used to turn the river emerald is actually a leak detection dye commonly used in plumbing. It takes 40 pounds of the dye to turn the river that bright, green hue. Incredible!
7. First parade
The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in Ireland took place in Waterford in 1903. In the same year, St. Patrick’s Day was declared an official public holiday in Ireland.
The first parade in Dublin didn’t take place until 1931.
8. St. Paddy’s or St. Patty’s?
While many people often refer to– or spell– St. Patrick’s Day as St. Patty’s, the correct short form is actually St. Paddy’s.
Patty, short for Patricia, is a woman’s name, after all. And Patrick’s name in Irish, which is ‘Pádraig’, has a ‘D’, not a ‘T’.
It’s an easy mistake!
9. Check, please
It’s estimated that the average worldwide bar tab on St. Patrick’s Day runs up to about $245 million annually.
10. Why Shamrocks?
So, why all the Shamrocks?
It is believed that the three leaves of the Shamrock represent the Holy Trinity– in other words: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
11. Ireland forever
On St. Patrick’s Day, it’s common to hear shouts of Éirinn go Brách, or the more anglicized Erin go Bragh. The Irish phrase translates to “Ireland forever”.
Long live Ireland indeed. And have a happy St. Patrick’s Day– just go light(ish) on the beer!