While not considered a federal holiday in the United States, St. Patricks Day is a day of pride for many Irish-Americans, who take the day to celebrate the heritage of their ancestors and their families.
Typically, St. Patrick’s Day themed parties concentrate on details like traditional Irish food, music, and drinks. People of all kinds, even those who are not Irish, often celebrate by dressing in generous amounts of green, temporarily dying their hair, or wearing shamrock jewelry in order to get into the spirit of the holiday. In cities like Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago, just to name a few, they have large street parades to mark the occasion.
What do we know about St. Patrick’s Day? Kids anticipate the arrival of a sneaky leprechaun and adults use the time to get together with friends and family and celebrate with traditional Irish stouts, foods, and dancing. But, what else do we know? Here are some little known facts that may come in handy at your fun family get-together!
Contrary to popular belief, Saint Patrick was not born in Ireland! In his autobiography, Patrick declares that he was born in a town called Bannavem Taberniae, which does not exist on any modern map. While it’s unclear as to exactly where he was born, it has been established that the town existed in one of three countries: England, Wales, or Scotland. It is believed that Bannavem Taberniae may also have been a town that is now known as Bannaventa, which is in the English county of Northamptonshire.
Not always a Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick was born to a deacon father and a mother who was a close relative of the great patron Saint Martin of Tours. While he was born into an Aristocratic, Christian family, he had absolutely no interest in religion throughout his childhood.
Patrick was kidnapped by a group of Irish raiders at the age of 16, where he was held in capitivity for the next 6 years and worked as a sheepherder. It was then that he began to turn back to his religious roots and re-established a relationship with God, becoming a devout Christian in the process.
What happened to Saint Patrick?
Saint Patrick left Ireland by walking nearly 200 miles to the coast and getting passage on a ship, returning to England to be with his family.
He studied for years and became an ordained priest, and after being “guided” by an angel to return to the island, headed back to Ireland to spread the word of Christianity throughout the country.
What about… the snakes?
It is often said that Saint Patrick “drove snakes out of Ireland”. This is symbolic. Snakes never existed on the island due to their climate. The abolishing of the snakes referred to in the tales represents the eradication of the old Celtic Pagans, which made way for the new age of Christianity.
When did Saint Patrick live?
It is said that Saint Patrick was born circa 385 and is said to have passed away on March 17, 461.
Traditional Irish cuisine?
After church, Irish families would celebrate later in the evening by eating traditional meals of Irish bacon and cabbage. At the turn of the century, corned beef became a substitute in many Irish-American families.
What about beer?
5.5 pints of Guinness, the famous Irish stout, is consumed around the world on a daily basis. However, on St. Patrick’s Day, that number more than doubles. It is said that 13 million pints are consumed on St. Patrick’s day alone.
What about green beer?
Okay, so you want to make green beer for your party? Just take 12 ounces of your favorite light lager and add one drop of green food coloring to it. Mix it well, and, voila!
What about the leprechauns?
Leprechauns originated in Irish folklore. Originally called “lobaircin”, they are believed to stem from Celtic beliefs in fairies and tiny people who used their magical powers for either good or evil. Leprechauns were often known for their cantankerous moods and their trickery.
And their gold coins?
Those infamous chocolate gold coins that children seek out during Saint Patrick’s day festivities represent the treasure that the leprechauns tried to protect in old, Irish fables.