St. Patrick’s Day is a fun holiday celebrated by many people all over the world every March 17th. We all have our traditions and associations with the day, but the annual celebration of Irish heritage, among other things, may have more to it than you know.
Not Always Green
Green is the color we associate with grass, American money, and St. Patrick’s Day. However, one of these was not always that way. The original color of St. Patrick’s Day was blue. This eventually transitioned to green over time. A big reason for the change had to do with the holiday’s use of Shamrocks, the most notable symbol of the holiday which just happens to be green.
St. Patrick, born Maewyn Succat, chose the three-leafed shamrock as a symbol to explain the Holy Trinity to pagans in Ireland. He would tie these shamrocks to his robe to show the message to others instead of just preaching. In Ireland Shamrocks had long been a symbol of rebirth and in many ways Irish pride.
The First Parade was in America
While the Irish had been celebrating the occasion since the ninth century, it was citizens in Boston, Massachusetts who began the tradition of holding a parade. This first parade took place in 1737. It was almost 200 years later when Ireland began holding their own parade when in 1931 Dublin had their first.
There Were No Snakes
An old fable about the origin of St. Patrick’s Day said that St. Patrick banished all of the snakes from Ireland using only a wooden staff. In reality, there never were any snakes. This was simply a metaphor on how St. Patrick ended the pagan ideology in the country and completely Christianized all of Ireland.
Corned Beef Came From Poverty
Two foods often associated with St. Patrick’s Day are cabbage and corned beef. Indeed cabbage is an Irish food. Corned beef however came into the tradition around the early 1900s. Poverty stricken Irish immigrants substituted the more expensive Irish bacon with the cheaper alternative, corned beef. This began in New York City thanks to some help from the Irish immigrants’ neighbors of Jewish ancestry.
No Real Connection with Leprechauns
Everybody’s favorite end-of-the-rainbow character, the leprechaun, has a strong association with St. Patrick’s Day. Celtic folklore is deep and includes lots of fairies and other mythological creatures. Traditionally leprechauns were known to be cranky and their main interest was protecting their pot of gold. The connection between leprechauns and St. Patrick’s Day has less to do with tradition and more with everything Irish getting lumped together. Similar to the Shamrock, they have become a main symbol of the holiday by pure luck of the Irish.