The Shocking Truth about St. Patrick's Day

  • March 14, 2017
  • Jenna Maxwell

This Friday, March 17, 2017 is St. Patrick's Day. You may think you know a lot about St. Patrick's Day, but not so fast! There are a few details about St. Patrick's Day that you probably didn't know, some of which may even surprise you!

Surprise, surprise--St. Patrick was not Irish. In fact, St. Patrick wasn't even named Patrick. St. Patrick was christened Maewyn Succat and was born someplace in England.

St. Patrick did not wear green. The wearin' o the BLUE may sound all wrong--but it actually may be a bit more accurate when it comes to the patron saint. Blue was the preferred wardrobe color for all of St. Patrick's robes and vestments.

Drinking on St. Patrick's Day used to be banned. Although in our current day, St. Patrick's Day is well known for celebratory drinking, believe it or not from 1903-1970, St. Patrick's Day was considered a religious holiday in Ireland, and for that reason, all pubs were closed!

Corned Beef and Cabbage is actually about as Irish as macaroni and cheese. Favorite Irish foods include traditional fare like Irish bacon, lamb, and soda bread and of course, Irish stew. The tradition of corned beef and cabbage likely came from Irish immigrants who had to make do with what food was available to them once they arrived in the United States. No, Shamrock Shakes aren't typical Irish food, either!

There's a good reason for all that St. Patrick's Day drinking! St. Patrick's Day falls during Lent, the six-week period of prayer and fasting observed by many Catholics. On St. Patrick's Day, the eating and drinking restrictions of Lent were put on hold temporarily. Thus St. Paddy's day became a celebration much like Fat Tuesday, with much eating, drinking and lots of merrymaking. On an average day in the US approximate 5.5 million pints of Guinness are consumed. On St. Patrick's Day, nearly 3 x that many pints are gleefully downed! Cheers!

Believe it or not, as popular as the shamrock is, it is not the officially sanctioned symbol of Ireland. This honor actually belongs to a musical instrument--the harp.

There are many more people of Irish descent living in the United States than there are in Ireland! Over 34 million people of Irish ancestry live in the US compared with the 4.5 million people that live in Ireland.

St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the US started during the 18-century, led by persecuted Irish immigrants who not only wanted to celebrate but desperately wanted to try and hold onto some of their Irish customs.

St. Patrick was absolutely not a snake exterminator although if you listen to ancient Irish lore, you may think otherwise. The truth is that weather conditions on the Emerald Isle make snake existence virtually impossible. Thus there have never been any snakes living there at all. The legend of St. Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland is nothing more than a myth.

In his youth, St. Patrick was a slave. Kidnapped at age 16, St. Patrick was forced to take care of flocks of sheep until he escaped, after ten years of being held in captivity. St. Patrick went back to England where he hid out in a monastery. St. Patrick eventually became a priest, changed his name to Patricius and believe it or not, it then became his ultimate desire to return to Ireland to preach Christianity to the Irish people.

There are no girl leprechauns. Sorry, PC crowd, the leprechaun gig is for men only.

Shamrocks were initially considered to be a religious symbol. It is thought that St. Patrick used the 3-leaved shamrock to teach his parishioners about the Holy Trinity.

Now might be an excellent time to learn some basic Irish lingo. For example, what the heck is the meaning of the famous Irish phrase, "Erin Go Bragh?" Do you want to brush up on some St. Paddy's day jargon? Check out our posting on St. Patrick's Day terminology.

And now for what could arguably the best Irish news of all! Did you know that the world's best holiday, Halloween, came from Ireland? Modern day Halloween most likely stems from the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain. Thus it seems appropriate that in honor of upcoming St. Patrick's Day we would write a Halloween themed Irish Limerick.

There once was a monster of doom
Who invited a ghoul to his room.
They had a large fight
That went late into night-
Just who should be frightened of whom?

Perhaps we should stick to our day job.

Happy St. Patrick's Day from your friends at Halloween Express!