The United States and several nations around the world celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with loud and colorful revelry. While some participants may in fact be of Irish descent, most aren’t. It is a fun day to wear green, wave an Irish flag and share a pint or two of green beer with friends, right? The St. Patrick’s Day holiday, though, has a long history which is relatively unknown to most celebrants. Armed with several interesting facts about the day, you will be able to enlighten friends and neighbors when you display your holiday decorative garden or house flag this year.
- St. Paddy’s Day: The holiday is celebrated on March 17th which is the traditional date of Saint Patrick’s death. While the holiday was established to honor the life of Saint Patrick and his Christian ministry to the people of Ireland, through the Irish diaspora to other nations (UK, US, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, in particular), the holiday has evolved to become a celebration of Irish language and culture.
- Patrick Who? Saint Patrick was born in the fourth century to a wealthy family in what was then Roman Britain. He was kidnapped at age 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave. While working there are a shepherd, his religious convictions deepened. He said that he heard a word from God that a ship would be waiting for him at the coast to take him home. It was and when he returned to England, he became a priest dedicated to converting the Irish to Christianity.
- The Importance of Clover: The three leaves of the clover became an important tool for St. Pat when teaching about the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. What a clever way to teach people about the concept of the Trinity! Fun fact: Each year, fresh clover leaves are sent from Ireland for Britain’s Irish Guard to wear on Saint Patrick’s Day.
- St. Pat Drives the Snakes Out of Ireland: Ireland is today and has always been snake free. The mythology of Saint Patrick ‘driving the snakes out of Ireland’ arose as a metaphor for the significant changes in people’s beliefs. Through his evangelism thousands of Irish, including the Druids, converted to Christianity. This shift away from old belief systems to a new one became known as the time when St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland.
- “Drowning the Shamrock”: The number of people participating in St. Patrick’s Day celebrations grew significantly when the parishioners were granted a one day reprieve from the abstinence from alcohol during Lent. To this, revelers raised a glass or a pint to toast good ol‘ St. Patrick. These toasts, made with a shamrock in the bottom of the glass, became known as ‘drowning (or wetting) the shamrock’.
- Everybody Loves a Parade! Everybody loves a colorful, rambunctious St. Paddy’s Day parade. In fact, until the late 20th century, the parades around the world were larger than the ones held in Ireland. The title for the shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade route is held by the village of Dripsey, County Cork. The parade route was a whopping 23.4 meters starting at one pub and leading to the other pub in town. Unfortunately, the parade was discontinued in 2004 when one of the pubs closed.
- A Touch of the Green: As green is the recognized color of Irish Catholicism, it has become traditional to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day. As part of the 2008 celebrations in London, green water flowed from the famous fountains in Trafalgar Square.
- Finally, It’s Official: While Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Roman Catholic feast day in the 1600s, it wasn’t an official Irish holiday until 1903. Pubs were required to be closed on that day. This prohibition was repealed in 1970 and the whiskey began to flow again.
- Don’t Space Out on St. Patrick’s Day: The astronauts on the Space Station, not wanting to miss out on anything, have gotten into the fun by playing flutes from the band the Chieftains, wearing green, photographing Ireland from space and singing ‘Danny Boy’.
- Party Where You Are! Whether you are in Dallas or Moscow, Tokyo or Jakarta, there will be a St. Patrick’s Day celebration near you. In Ireland, events celebrating the Irish language and culture are held throughout the week.
With so many events and people celebrating the patron saint of Ireland, there is no excuse not to join in the fun. At I AmEricas Flags, we have a wide selection of decorative St. Patrick’s Day garden and house flags to show your holiday spirit. Shop the selection online or visit our shop. We’ll help you get ready to celebrate the holiday in style.