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Before you break out a Guinness, green colored beer, shamrocks or corned beef and cabbage take the time to learn a little more about St. Patrick’s Day, you just might be surprised.

Today is a day of festivities for all Irish, those claiming to be of Irish descent and all others just looking for a good reason to party. But did you know that it is only in the last 20 years that celebrating St. Patrick’s Day has become a big event?

The start of the modern St. Patrick’s Day celebration began in 1995 after the Irish government began a national campaign to use St. Patrick’s Day as an opportunity to drive tourism and showcase Ireland to the rest of the world.

St. Patrick’s Day Facts, Myths and Legends

There are more Americans of Irish origin than there are Irish in Ireland. When you also consider that St. Patrick was an Englishman and the influence that other cultures have had on the day, you have to wonder how Irish St. Patrick’s Day actually is.

The following is a list of things that you probably did not know about St. Patrick’s Day.

Stuff you should know in case you are on a game show and the category is St. Patrick’s Day.

  • Origins of St. Patrick’s Day
    • St Patrick was born an Englishman, captured by Irish raiders at age 16 and escaped 6 years later. He soon returned to Ireland as a missionary.
    • St. Patrick’s feast day started being celebrated by the Irish in Europe in the ninth and tenth centuries.
    • St. Patrick’s Day started as a religious holiday in the 1600’s, in 1903, Saint Patrick’s Day became an official public holiday in Ireland.
    • St. Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish.
    • Green shamrocks and ribbons have been worn since the 1600’s.
    • Shamrocks don’t actually exist as a plant species. Most shamrocks are considered three leaved clovers or wood sorrels.
  • Traditions of St. Patrick’s Day
    • Corned beef and cabbage is an Irish American meal. The original feast day meal was boiled bacon with either potatoes or cabbage. The brining for corn beef is of Eastern European origin and was used by Irish immigrants who could afford a cheap cut of meat brisket.
    • The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place not in Ireland, but in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762.
    • The first parade in Ireland did not occur until 1931 in Dublin.
    • Blue was originally the color associated with St. Patrick. The debate to have green or blue shamrocks/decorations spanned over 100 years. Green won by most use.
    • St. Patrick’s blue is a name applied to several shades of blue considered as symbolic of Ireland.
    • Green was more associated with “the Good People” – also known as Fairy folk who stole children.
  • Drinking
    • Drinking on St. Patrick’s Day is more or less an American tradition. Drinking was banned in Irish pubs in 1927. It was not repealed until the 1970’s.
    • Over 13 million pints of Guinness will be served on St. Patrick’s Day.(Legendary consumption)
    • Guinness was first produced by the brewery of Arthur Guinness in Dublin in 1759.
    • Guinness will not be sponsor for the 2014 New York City parade. Neither will Heineken.
  • Largest Festivals
    • The New York City parade is by far the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade.
    • Dublin, Ireland has the second largest parade which draws almost half of the city’s population.
    • Boston MA., and Savannah GA., also has sizeable parades. Savannah (Pop. 136k) draws 750,000 people.
    • In 1997, Dublin started a 3 day St. Patrick’s festival.
    • In 2000, the Dublin festival was 4 days and by 2006 the festival was extended to 5 days.
    • Approximately a dozen countries have St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

We hope that you have a great St. Patrick’s Day celebration and be sure not to make too much of a mess for the maintenancecrews coming into clean up and make repairs.