It’s a safe bet that you’re in an Irish Pub on March 17th, you’re thinking about nothing more than making a drunken mess of yourself to a bunch of Irish drinking songs and showing off your shamrocks (no pun intended, unless you’re Scottish). Good for you. Here are some interesting and little known facts to share with your green clad buddies on the only day that drinking yourselves into a coma is socially acceptable.
- 1. St. Patrick drove the pagans out of Ireland, not snakes, but not really.
Irish folklore states that St Patrick miraculously drove all the snakes into the sea, but it likely a mistranslation form a 6th century text, Dinnshenchas. In it, Druids are represented by snakes, as snakes were sacred symbols to them. Although much of the actual history is lost the one constant is that St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland and drove out the pagan religion although is recognized by many scholars that by the time he landed in Ireland, many Druids and pagans had already begun to incorporate Christian beliefs into their own religion.
- 2. St. Patrick was a slave.
Patrick had been sold into slavery to the Irish by the British at age 16. Legend states that he fled to Brittan by boat and later returned to convert his master and buy his freedom. When his old master heard of his arrival, he was afraid that Patrick brought an army to force him into Christianity. Rather than be forcibly converted, he burned himself alive in his own home. A charming story to share with your inebriated chums, eh?
- 3. Blue was the original color of St. Paddy’s Day.
Blue was the official color of the Order of St. Patrick, and is the color symbolic of Ireland. It was only natural that when St Patrick’s Day was recognized as an official holiday, the symbolic color was blue. Because St Patrick used a clover to teach about the Trinity, it became custom to wear one during St. Paddy’s day. This tradition of along with Irish soldiers wearing green on March 17th to draw attention to their 1798 rebellion is most likely the cause the association with green today.
- 4. Pubs in Ireland were closed on St Paddy’s Day until 1970’s.
St Paddy’s Day happens to occur during lent, when restrictions on alcohol are placed. Because of this, pubs were closed in observance. However, Bishops would lift the alcohol ban in observance of St Patties day and thus, it became tradition to get absolutely blitzed on March 17th. Ah tradition.
- 5. The Japanese celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Although St Patrick’s Day is officially recognized in only 3 countries, It is actually celebrated in twelve nations. Perhaps most surprising is Japan, who holds their own Saint Patrick’s parade. The first parade in Tokyo, was organized by the Irish Network Japan in 1992. This parade is organized to bridge the cultural divide between Ireland and Japan as many Irish now live in the land of the rising sun.
While these facts may never actually save your life, they may help you win the trivia contest at your local Irish pub, earning you free beer for a year and that’s pretty much the same thing.