On March 17, we all claim to be Irish.
That is when almost everyone celebrates St. Patrick's Day.
In a handful of places, it's not just a day to wear green and drink, but it is also a public holiday: The Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland, Labrador, and Montserrat.
Here is a closer look at 5 fun facts to help you channel your inner Irishman or Irishwoman.
Who was Saint Patrick?
March 17 is when St. Patrick died. He spent most of his life bringing Christianity to Ireland, not to mention that he made the shamrock rather famous by using it to preach about the Trinity. He also freed Ireland from the snakes. You could say he was one of the most famous patron saints of Ireland.
He wasn't actually Irish.
St. Patrick wasn’t Irish, nor was he born in Ireland. Turns out, Patrick’s parents were Roman citizens living in modern-day England. Around the age of 16, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders who took him and sold him as a slave.
Green became the new blue
Blue was the original color associated with St. Patrick, not green. He apparently preferred blue and was even pictured in blue vestments. Wearing green started in 1798 during the Irish Rebellion, when the clover became a symbol of nationalism. The trend stuck.
There are more Irish in the U.S. than in Ireland. It’s complicated though… 33.1 million U.S. residents claim Irish ancestry. That is about seven times Ireland’s population. In fact, Irish is the second most frequently reported European ancestry in America. That likely has a lot to do with the fact that millions of Irish left the country for America during the potato famine.
St. Patricks Day ranks No. 4 among the calendar’s most popular drinking days, behind New Year’s Eve, Christmas and Fourth of July. In fact 13 million pints of Guiness will be consumed worldwide on St. Patricks Day. But it wasn’t always that way… Irish law declared St. Patrick’s Day a religious observance for the entire country. From 1903 to 1970 all pubs were shut down for the day, meaning no beer, not even the green kind. The law was finally overturned in 1970 when St. Patrick’s was reclassified as a national holiday.
Bonus fact: your odds of finding a four-leaf clover are about 1 in 10,000.
Looking to channel your inner Irishman? Here are some ways to celebrate in the Heartland.