What do you think of when St. Patty’s rolls around every March? If you’re like most Americans, you probably think of four leaf clover decorations, goofy leprechauns, beer, and lots of green. Interestingly, the holiday we celebrate today is almost nothing like it was when it was originally created.
St. Patrick’s Color Was Originally Blue, Not Green
According to historians, the famous saint was associated with a light shade of blue during his lifetime. In fact, you can still see this color on some old Irish flags. It wasn’t until much later that the shamrock came to represent Ireland, and when that happened, the color of St. Patrick became green. Now, you get pinched for not wearing green. Funny, huh?
The Four Leaf Clover Was Originally a Religious Symbol
As a Catholic, St. Patrick spent his time in Ireland attempting to convert people to his faith. He preached about the Holy Trinity, and he used the shamrock to symbolize the concept. Later on in the 1800s, the Irish really adopted the symbol as their own. The image is everywhere in Irish culture. Brides will even place clovers in their wedding bouquets!
St. Patrick Wasn’t Even Irish
Despite his incredibly strong association with the country, St. Patrick was actually born in Roman Britain in the 4th century. As a young teen, he was captured by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland against his will. Upon his arrival, Patrick realized the land was full of people who did not know his God. He turned to his faith and began to spread the word of Catholicism throughout the land. His impact over the 40 years he lived there was so significant that he is now known as an Irish saint, even though he was born British.
The Parades Started in America, Not Ireland
Almost everyone I know has attended a St. Patty’s parade of some sort at least once. The holiday promises drinking, costumes, and a sense of over-the-top fun. It’s almost like a strange version of Halloween in which everyone adorns themselves with sparkly green ornaments and “Kiss me, I’m Irish” t-shirts. Ironically, America was the first country to host a parade in honor of the holiday back in 1762. Irish immigrants had come to America, and they brought their holidays along with them. New York City wasted no time scooping the day up and making it an American tradition.
Before the 1960s, You Could Not Drink Alcohol to Celebrate the Day in Ireland
Beer has become one of the most recognized aspects of St. Patrick’s Day in many areas. It’s not uncommon to stumble across an American bar on the holiday packed with fluorescent green and people happy to get their drink on. In Ireland, pubs are equally crowded. However, it wasn’t always that way. Irish pubs used to close on the holiday, and most Irish people drank less on the holiday because it falls during the season of Lent. Now, most people view the day as a break from the religious period of fasting.