St. Patrick’s Day – Facts, Figures and Fun

The Feast of St. Patrick

Saint Patrick was a Irish Bishop who lived in the 5th-century. He is attributed to converting many pagan Irish to Christianity. Later, his efforts would become a famous allegory about "driving the snakes" out of Ireland. He died on March 17 and thus that day became a celebration for the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.


Children's Books About Ireland

A list of children's books about Ireland and Irish culture.

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Popularity of St. Patrick's Day

The Irish diaspora, a group of people separated out from their homeland, mainly in North America, used March 17 as a way to connect back to their roots. Many traditions and celebrations evolved into the holiday as we know it today. Some traditions include:

  • Drowning the shamrock
    • The shamrock was used as symbol of the Holy Trinity in Christianity. It was used to teach Irish pagans about the Trinity and thus evolved into a symbol of good luck.
    • Adults put a shamrock at the bottom of their glass and then filled with alcohol. After the drink is finished, drinkers either swallow the shamrock or toss it over their shoulder.
  • Wearing green
    • Green became associated with Ireland when the green harp flag was taken up by the Irish Catholic Confederation in the 1640s.
      • Blue is actually a symbol of Ireland.
    • There is also speculation that the green comes from the story of Goidel the Green who is bitten by a snake but saved by Moses. The bite leaves a green mark. As Goidel is the father of the Gaels and his descendants are said to have settled in Ireland, green became their color.

  • Parades
    • It was said that parades for St. Patrick's Day began as a way for Irish diaspora to celebrate their heritage. The parade in New York City has been going since 1762.
    • Since then, St. Patrick's Day parades have appeared all over the world, in various countries including Malta, Norway, Russia and Argentina.
    • Even Chicago gets in on the fun by turning the Chicago River green. 



Irish Musicians

A list of Irish musicians to enjoy this St. Patrick's Day.

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Fun Facts About St. Patrick's Day

  • St. Patrick isn't actually Irish. His parents were Roman and he was born in Scotland or Wales.
  • Drinking didn't become associate with St. Patrick's Day until the 1970s. Before then it was a strictly dry holiday.
  • St. Patrick's Day was almost St. Maewyn's Day as that was St. Patrick's birth name. He changed it when he became a priest.
  • There are no female leprechauns according to Irish legend.
  • Corn beef and hash was an inexpensive, American substitute to the Irish dish of ham/bacon and cabbage.
  • Argentina is known for having the largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the world.
Fiction Books Set in Ireland

A list of fiction books for adults set in Ireland.

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Movies Set in Ireland

A list of movies set in or filmed in Ireland.

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