Fun facts for St. Patty’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! Under normal circumstances, this would be a happy day full of beer-drinking, block parties, and lots and lots of green outfits. The pandemic has put a bit of a damper on that, but we can still have some virtual fun. Here are 13 fun facts about St. Patty’s Day from MentalFloss!

St. Patrick's Day parade in New York City, 1960
A picture of New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, circa 1960.PETER KEEGAN/GETTY IMAGES
  1. We should be wearing BLUE on St. Patrick’s Day: apparently, the color green only became associated with the holiday after it was linked to the Irish independence movement in the late 18th century.
  2. St. Patrick wasn’t Irish: what?! Although he made his mark by introducing Christianity to Ireland in 432, Patrick was actually born to Roman parents in Scotland or Wales in the late 4th century.
  3. St. Patrick’s Day used to be a dry holiday: pubs were closed in Ireland and Northern Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day until the 1970s. Before then, it was a solemn, strictly religious occasion.
  4. NYC’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been happening since 1762: one of the world’s largest parades was actually canceled for the first time in its history due to COVID-19 in 2020.
  5. Chicago runs green for St. Patty’s Day: you’ve all seen it – the Chicago River has been dyed green on St. Patrick’s Day every year since 1962 (but won’t be this year).
  6. Some St. Patrick’s Day parades are…different: from 1999-2007, the Irish village of Dripsey hosted a 26-yard St. Patrick’s Day parade between two pubs. Today, the shortest one is in Hot Springs, Arkansas (98 feet).
  7. There’s a meaning behind the shamrocks: according to Irish legend, St. Patrick used the three-leafed shamrock (not a four-leaf clover, by the way), as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity when he introduced Christianity to Ireland.
  8. Credit where it’s not due?: in Irish lore, St. Patrick gets credit for driving all snakes out of Ireland. However, modern scientists suggest that Ireland has never been home to any snakes because the island was too cold to host reptiles during the Ice Age, and the surrounding seas have kept them away ever since.
  9. Corned beef, hold the corn: corned beef, a popular Irish-American staple on St. Patty’s Day, doesn’t have anything to do with corn. The name is a nod to the large grains of salt historically used to cure meats, which were also called “corns.”
  10. St. Patrick’s Day is a bar owner’s dream: it was estimated in 2017 that 13 MILLION pints of Guinness would be consumed worldwide on St. Patty’s Day. In 2020, it was expected that American beer sales would be up 174% and that Americans celebrating would spend more than $6 billion on the holiday.
  11. His name wasn’t originally Patrick: hold on, what? According to Irish legend, St. Patrick wasn’t originally called “Patrick.” His birth name was Maewyn Succat, but he changed it to Patricius after becoming a priest.
  12. There are no female leprechauns: in traditional Irish folk tales, there are no female leprechauns. Rude!
  13. The lingo makes sense: you can’t attend a St. Patrick’s Day event without hearing a cry of “Erin go Bragh.” What’s the phrase mean? It’s a corruption of the Irish Éirinn go Brách, which means roughly “Ireland Forever.”
Green Chicago River on St. Patrick's Day
Every year, the Chicago River is dyed green for the holiday.TASOS KATOPODIS/GETTY IMAGES