Thursday, March 17, 2011

5 Things You Didn't Know About St Patrick's Day

Happy St Patrick's Day! Are you wearing green? Here are five things you didn't know about St Patrick's Day:

The first St Patrick's Day parade wasn't in Ireland. It was held in Boston in 1737, but that was more of an impromptu we're drunk and Irish let's march down the street sort of thing. New York City had the first planned one in 1762. The first parade wasn't held in Dublin until 1931.

The Irish government once banned drinking on St Patricks Day. They passed a law forcing pubs to close in 1927, and until 1961 the only legal place to drink on March 17th was the RDS Dog Show! They even banned advertising on the holiday, in an attempt to focus on traditional Irish music and religious services. Luckily, the drinking ban was repealed in the 1970s.

St Patrick was originally associated with the colour blue. Light blue was the traditional national colour of Ireland, and 'St Patrick's blue' ribbons were used for the Order of St Patrick medals. No one is quite sure how it switched to green. Some feel it had to do with the saint's use of the three-leaf clover as a symbol of the Holy Trinity, while others attribute it to the independence movement of the 18th century. Green ribbons were reported at St Patrick's Day parties as early as 1681, however.

St Patrick's Day is a public holiday in Montserrat. The tiny island is known as the 'Emerald Isle of the Caribbean' because it was founded by Irish refugees from St Kitts and Nevis. The holiday commemorates a failed slave uprising that took place on March 17th, 1768. St Patrick's Day is also a public holiday in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

St Patrick was not Irish, and not named Patrick. The Catholic Church says he was born in Scotland in 385 AD. He was captured and sold into slavery, but escaped. He was ordained as Patrick (or Palladius) in France. According to some sources, his original name was Maewyn Succat.

Photo from here.

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