When most Americans think of St. Patrick’s Day, they think of Shamrock Shakes, leprechauns, pubs, and excessive partying. But how much of Americans’ conceived ideas of St. Patrick’s Day are actually true? Here are some common misconceptions about St. Patrick’s Day and the facts behind the fiction:
Green is the color of St. Patrick’s Day. While green is commonly associated with St. Patrick’s Day, it is not the actual color of St. Patrick. The knights in the Order of St. Patrick wore a color known as St. Patrick’s blue. Green probably became an emblem of St. Patrick’s Day because green is a patriotic symbol of Ireland, which is known as the Emerald Isle.
The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade was in Ireland. No, it was actually in Boston in 1737. During the 18th century, Irish soldiers fighting with the British in the Revolutionary War held the first St. Patrick’s Day parades. Other parades followed in the years and decades after, including well-known celebrations in Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
Popular St. Patrick’s Day festivities have their roots in Ireland. Actually, most St. Patrick’s Day festivities started in Irish communities throughout America. St. Patrick’s Day was a Roman Catholic feast only observed in Ireland up until the 1700’s. The faithful would spend the, relatively somber, occasion (St. Patrick’s Day is on the day St.Patrick died) in quiet prayer at church or at home. This changed when Irish immigrants living in the Americas organized parades and other events on March 17th to show their Irish Pride. Today, St. Patrick’s Day has turned into a celebration of Irish culture with parties, music, and iconic foods.
St. Patrick’s Day is an official United States Holiday. While there are more people of Irish descent living in America today than in Ireland (34 million in America vs 4.2 million in Ireland) and 90% of Americans observe St. Patrick’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day is not a legal holiday in America.
Shamrocks are Four-Leaf Clovers. Surprise! They’re not. Shamrocks are a small leafed plant with only three leaves. Perhaps Four-Leaf Clovers became associated with St. Patrick’s Day because they symbolize luck, but in reality, they have little connection to Ireland and are NOT Shamrocks.
Four- Leafed Clover (Above)
Saint Patrick’s Day is Ireland’s excuse to get drunk. Actually, it was illegal for bars to remain open on March 17th in Ireland for most of the 20th century. From 1905 until around 1966, pubs were forbidden from selling alcohol on St. Patrick’s Day because it was supposed to be a solemn day of holy obligation.
Saint Patrick is a Saint. Although his name may suggest otherwise, St.Patrick has never been formally canonized by any pope – so technically, he’s not a proper saint. St. Patrick, who lived during the 5th century, lived during a time when saints were named by their local churches rather than the Vatican. During the 10th century, the Vatican drew up the first official list of Saints and they basically accepted the saints named at local level without formally canonizing them.
Regardless of how you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, it’s a great reminder that Spring and warm weather are almost here in Wisconsin!
“7 Lucky Facts About St. Patrick’s Day.” Visual.ly. DegreeSearch.org, 28 Dec. 2011. Web. 15 Mar. 2015. <isual.ly/7-lucky-facts-about-st-patricks-day>.
“St. Patrick’s Day Myths.” St. Patrick’s Day Myths. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2015. <http://notcornedbeef.tripod.com/>.
Dalton, Christine. “Everything You Know About St. Patrick’s Day Is Wrong.”The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 14 Mar. 2014. Web. 15 Mar. 2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/14/brutally-honest-st-patricks-day-facts_n_4957861.html>.