St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday that has a rich history. Many of us are familiar with the childhood game of making sure that everyone wore green on St. Patrick’s Day. If you were unlucky enough to forget the mandatory green item, you could guarantee yourself a playful pinch.
St. Patrick’s Day is more than just a dress code regulated holiday. Here are a few things I bet you didn’t know about St. Patrick’s Day.
St. Patrick’s Blue?
Green was not the initial color associated with St. Patrick’s Day, it was blue. There is even a shade of blue, called “St. Patrick’s Blue”. Today, green is the chosen color often associated with St. Patrick’s Day, in semblance of Ireland’s lush green terrain. Green is also the color of the beloved shamrock.
Shamrocks and Leprechauns
Shamrocks are the national flower of Ireland. Shamrocks were said to have been used by Saint Patrick to symbolize the Holy Trinity. A shamrock is the general name of a number of flowers in Ireland. Leprechauns are mythical creatures that are said to dwell in Ireland. They are considered unfriendly and aloof. The name leprechaun means, “little body”.
The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade took place on March 17, 1762, when English soldiers with Irish descent marched along the streets to commemorate the day. Since then, hundreds of parades have been organized in honor of the holiday. Each year, parades are held in major cities such as New Orleans, Pittsburg, Houston, Seattle and New York to name a few. Parades are generally held the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day.
Chicago River Goes Green
Each year on March 17, the Chicago River is dyed lime green to celebrate St. Patrick ‘s Day. Corned beef and cabbage specials pop up around the cities restaurants and thousands of the residents take to the streets to march in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Residents are dressed in brightly decorated green costumes, generally donned with shamrocks and glitters, making the town appear as a gigantic shamrock. Downtown Chicago literally shuts down to celebrate. The celebration has been going on for over 4 decades.
St. Patrick’s Day Facts Retrieved March 4, 2014 from: http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/st-patricks-day-facts/videos/shamrocks
English Zone, St. Patrick’s Day Symbols Retrieved March 4, 2014 from: http://english-zone.com/holidays/st-patsymbols.html
History Channel Retrieved March 4, 2014 from: http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/history-of-st-patricks-day/videos/green?m=528e38969e64d