Sure, it’s a fun holiday and a great excuse to wear green, eat Irish food, drink Irish drinks and celebrate Irish culture. But how Irish is St. Patrick's Day really? While an estimated 34 million people living in the U.S. of Irish ancestry want to celebrate their heritage on St. Patrick’s Day, it's believed that St. Patrick wasn't even Irish. And he wasn't even born in Ireland! He was believed to have been born in Britain, specifically Wales.
The first St. Patrick's Day parade was not celebrated in Ireland. History tells us the first St. Patrick's Day parade happened in Boston on March 17, 1737 on a small scale and in New York City on March 17, 1762 on a large scale. Like Cinco de Mayo, it's a holiday that seems to be a bigger deal in the U.S. than in its actual homeland.
St. Patrick’s Day is a huge deal in cities that dye their rivers green on March 17. And to commemorate the holiday, cities like Chicago and of course Tampa dye a major river green on this day. So do people go St. Paddleboarding on this day? ... Sorry, bad joke.
And on a sour note, March 17, 460 A.D is actually believed to be the day that St. Patrick died. So we're actually celebrating the patron saint's death, huh? Morbid.
Millions of people wear green on Saint Patrick's Day because it’s the color of spring. And it's also the color popularly associated with Ireland and of the beloved shamrock, an iconic symbol of the country. That makes sense.
According to history, green was not even St. Patrick’s color of choice. The not-even-Irish patron saint's color of choice was actually blue! So maybe we should be drinking blue beer instead of green.
One of the most famous legends of St. Patrick describes how he banished all snakes from the Emerald Isle into the ocean, where they drowned. Sure, why not? It really is kind of a morbid holiday when you think about it!
They say everybody's Irish on St. Patrick's Day. It was recognized as a U.S. national holiday after thousands of Irish people immigrated to the country in the 1880s. Today there are approximately 34 million people of Irish descent living in the United States. They're living the American Green!
While St. Patrick's Day is a legitimate national holiday, it's also a brilliant marketing scheme. From beer to food to green clothing and St. Patrick's Day accessories, many businesses stand to make huge money every year on this beloved holiday. According to U.S. News and World Report, Americans are projected to spend $4.7 billion on St. Patrick's Day. That's a lot of green!
While an estimated 13 million pints of Guinness beer are consumed on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day — the fourth most popular drinking holiday in the United States — was actually a dry holiday between 1903 and 1970 by Irish law. St. Patrick’s Day was a religious holiday for Ireland back then. That meant pubs were closed for the day and drinking was prohibited. So back then they must've shed a tear for the lack of green beer!