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St. Patrick’s Day: Facts & Fiction

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“May your day be touched by a bit of Irish luck, brightened by a song in your heart, and warmed by the smiles of the people you love.” Irish Blessing

St. Patrick’s Day: Facts & Fiction - Symbols, Parades & Celebrations

St. Patrick’s Day: Facts & Fiction – Symbols, Parades & Celebrations

Wishing you a rainbow
For sunlight after showers—
Miles and miles of Irish smiles
For golden happy hours—
Shamrocks at your doorway
For luck and laughter too,
And a host of friends that never ends
Each day your whole life through! Irish Blessings

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!  Tomorrow, we get to officially celebrate this popular, international holiday by joining throngs of people in colorful parades everywhere. We get to bear witness to the fact that when many gather to honor what matters to them; be it their culture, history or whatever, powerful observers do join in to make it happen. What I love about this day of revelry is how much fun and creativity goes into planning the parades and celebrations. The parades try to showcase the best of Ireland and it’s immigrant population around the world. Interestingly, it is the immigrant population that originated the first parade in New York in 1762, and the event has grown beyond that first attempt to honor St Paddy and all things Irish. To help us enjoy and survive this exuberant event, I have added, in block quotes above each paragraph, beautiful, traditional Irish blessings to pave our way to a happy day. I have also added, below each paragraph, insightful facts and fiction/myths about this special day. Take a moment to read them.

Did you know that there are more Irish people living in the U.S. than in Ireland? Ireland has about 4.2. million people and counting.
In contrast, we have about 34 million people of Irish descent living in America and understandably, that is why Saint Paddy’s Day parade started here.
“Saint Patrick’s Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, “the Day of the Festival of Patrick”) is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated annually on 17 March, the death date of the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461).”
“St. Patrick’s Day marks the Roman Catholic feast day for Ireland’s patron saint, who died in the 5th century. St. Patrick (Patricius in Latin) was not born in Ireland, but in Britain.”
“St. Patrick was kidnapped at 16 and brought to Ireland. He was sold as a slave in the county of Antrim and served in bondage for six years until he escaped to Gaul, in present-day France. He later returned to his parents’ home in Britain, where he had a vision that he would preach to the Irish. After 14 years of study, Patrick returned to Ireland, where he built churches and spread the Christian faith for some 30 years.”
St. Patrick is Irish… Nope! He was born in Great Britain and his real name was Maewyn Succat NOT Patrick
St. Patrick’s Day was started in Ireland. Nope. As far as we know, it was invented in the United States of America and St. Patrick’s Day parade was actually first held in New York in 1762, and the Irish in Ireland joined in many years later.
According to St. Patrick’s Day lore, Patrick used the three leaves of a shamrock to explain the Christian holy trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
One of the best known myths about this popular saint is that Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland into the Irish Sea, where the serpents drowned. What about Leprechauns? They have nothing to do with this day and until the 19thC, these folklore characters wore red instead of green clothing.

“Love is never defeated, and I could add, the history of Ireland proves it.” Pope John Paul II

St. Patrick’s Day: Facts & Fiction - Symbols, Parades & Celebrations

St. Patrick’s Day: Facts & Fiction – Symbols, Parades & Celebrations

St. Patrick’s Day: Facts & Fiction - Symbols, Parades & Celebrations

St. Patrick’s Day: Facts & Fiction – Symbols, Parades & Celebrations

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours! Old Irish Blessing

Celebrating St Patrick’s Day Respectfully: Recently, I read a brilliant post on the subject of Surviving Saint Patrick’s Day in America by one of my fellow bloggers, Amy Scott of SassandShamrocks. The post was humorous and fact filled, and it reminded me of how I feel when people talk about … “When I was in Africa…” as if the continent is a country. When we talk about or celebrate the accomplishments of another culture, we must pay attention to the history and origins of that culture, what the celebration means, and participate in it with clarity and respect. To forget to do so is to ignore the subtle nuances that promote cultural biases and diminish the cherished views held about that culture … but, I digress. Since there is so much cultural attachment to the celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day, it is important that we remember to be mindful of jumping on the proverbial, stereotypical bandwagon about the Irish. One endless point raised on this day is about drinking beer. Ironically, when it was first celebrated in Ireland, beer drinking was banned so, let’s keep that one in mind too. Amy’s post brings this up very clearly and I invite you to visit her blog and read it.

“St. Patrick’s Day revelers wear a shamrock NOT a four-leaf clover. Trifolium dubium, the wild-growing, three-leaf clover that some botanists consider the official shamrock, is an annual plant that germinates in the spring.
Colonial New York City hosted the first official St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1762, when Irish immigrants in the British colonial army marched down city streets. Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is little more than 75 years old.”
“In 1903, Saint Patrick’s Day became an official public holiday in Ireland. Until the 1970s, St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland was a minor religious holiday. A priest would acknowledge the feast day, and families would celebrate with a big meal, but that was about it.” Some say that St. Patrick’s Day was invented in America by Irish-Americans and the U.S. tradition of St. Patrick’s Day parades, packed pubs, and green has become popular in Ireland
Your chances of finding a four-leaf clover are slim to none – how about 1 in 10,000? I did find one though.
Many St. Patrick’s Day “traditions” have nothing to do with Ireland or Irish culture; officially these are American invented traditions
St. Patrick’s color is green. No it is blue, and that green hat on your head and on other body parts are probably an American invention.
Saint Patrick Day Green – In the United States, it’s customary to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day. While the color green has been associated with Ireland since at least the 1640s, the color was long considered to be unlucky in some parts of Ireland. In the US, the green color took over in many ways; Since 1962, Chicago has been famous for dyeing the Chicago River green on St. Patrick’s Day.
Pass the Lager – While drinking is a part of the festivities, it is NOT the main reason for the celebrations. It wasn’t until the 1970s when people could drink in pubs in Ireland on this day. Before then, Pubs in Ireland were closed on St. Patrick’s Day because it was seen as both a cultural and a national religious holiday.

More Below!

“Above all else, deep in my soul, I’m a tough Irishwoman.” Maureen O’Hara

St. Patrick’s Day: Facts & Fiction - Symbols, Parades & Celebrations

St. Patrick’s Day: Facts & Fiction – Symbols, Parades & Celebrations

May there always be work for your hands to do.
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine on your windowpane.
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you.
May Grace fill your heart with gladness to cheer you. Irish Blessings
Being Irish, I always had this love of words. Kenneth Branagh
Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy. William Butler Yeats

Where Facts Meet Fiction: One of the challenges we face when we hear/read about cultural events is being able to separate fact from fiction/myth. We read all sorts of interpretations on the internet and because we assume that nobody is watching, some of us take liberties by stretching the truth and spreading fabricated stories. I must admit that until I started doing my homework on cultural events, I believed almost everything that I was told about so many of them: from Saint Patrick’s Day, Kwanzaa, to April Fool’s day and more. With a bit more investigation, we can get to the bottom of these stories and learn to appreciate and respect these holidays for what they truly represent. All said, I still wish each of you a bit o’ luck of the Irish. Happy Saint Paddy’s Day!

The harp is the symbol of Ireland not the green shamrock.
“In the mid-1990s the government of the Republic of Ireland began a campaign to use Saint Patrick’s Day to showcase Ireland and its culture”; with a festival as the end goal. The first Saint Patrick’s Festival was held on 17 March 1996. Every St. Patrick’s Day, revelers raise a pint of stout and wish their companions “Slainté!”—the Irish word, pronounced SLAN-cha, for “health.”
Did you know that New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is the longest running civilian parade in the world? It is closely followed by the parades in Montreal and Dublin. Apparently, the shortest St Patrick’s Day parade in the world is in Dripsey, Cork. It lasts 100 yards which is the distance between the village’s two pubs.
It can be called St. Patty’s Day” … NOT! Please call him St. Patrick or St. Paddy… after all, the last time we checked, Patty was/is/always will be female.
Corned beef and cabbage isn’t a traditional Irish dish
Female Leprechauns! Oh Female Leprechauns! They only exist in the same city where Unicorns live…
“When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” was not created in Ireland but by a group of New York songwriters
Green Beer is not Irish and The pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow isn’t coming to a street near you any day soon. (If, by chance, one did happen to find a mystical pot at the end of a rainbow this St. Patrick’s Day, and it contained 1,000 gold coins weighing one ounce each, WalletHub estimated the total current worth at $1.26 million).

This post was partly inspired by a prompt from WP Daily Post – Daily Prompt: Witness. When you write, who is watching you? A post about a beloved dog’s passing inspires this week’s challenge.

Positive Motivation Tip: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with love, joy, and gratitude for a cultural event that gathers us all to spread good cheer.

Irish Blessings
Saint Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day Fast Facts: Beyond the Blarney
St. Patrick’s Day 2012: Facts, Myths, and Traditions
St. Patrick’s Day 2014: Facts, Myths, and Traditions
St Patrick’s Day: Top 20 Things You Should Know
St. Patrick’s Day: 10 Fascinating Facts About This Holiday


PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos  SPD in USA, St Patrick, Irish Clover, Category: Saint Patrick’s Day via Wikipedia

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

56 Comments leave one →
  1. momknowsbest15 permalink
    17/03/2016 7:20 pm

    I learn a lot about this day. Now to share with husband.

  2. AccidentallyAllison permalink
    17/03/2016 7:38 pm

    How is it even possible that there are ore Irish in the US than in Ireland!?? Great post, tons of info I really enjoyed it.

  3. 17/03/2016 8:05 pm

    I never knew parades take place the day after all over.

  4. Amy Jones permalink
    17/03/2016 10:55 pm

    Ha! i always knew st Patrick’s day was really blue, not green like the rest thinks.

  5. phyliciamarie permalink
    17/03/2016 11:53 pm

    I had no idea there were so many misconceptions about St. Patrick’s Day! And, whoa, there are waaaaay too many Irish people in America than in actual Ireland, so it makes sense that it originated in the US,

  6. Miss Millennia Mag (@MissMillMag) permalink
    18/03/2016 2:07 am

    Happy Saint Paddy’s Day! I was not aware of these facts about this day! Wonderful post!!

  7. nicol permalink
    18/03/2016 3:41 am

    i was in the us recently and did wonder why the parades were so big over there! i did learn a lot from reading this 🙂

  8. Chubskulit Rose permalink
    18/03/2016 7:26 am

    I had fun reading the fact and fiction. It’s interesting to note that there are more than Irish living in the US more than in Ireland.

  9. The *New* Classy (@TheNewClassy) permalink
    18/03/2016 7:44 am

    My grandmother was born on St Patrick’s Day. So, it is definitely one of my favorite holidays.

  10. Agnes Dela Cruz permalink
    18/03/2016 7:56 am

    WE dont celebrated St.Patricks Day here in the Philippines and I am glad to read this blog post and got more information about the celebration. Enjoy the feast and merriment.

  11. uprunforlife permalink
    18/03/2016 8:59 am

    I love learning new facts about our holidays. I knew that the color wasn’t green in the beginning and I’m assuming that is why I saw blue painted faces in my Facebook timeline.

  12. Jojo Vito permalink
    18/03/2016 9:07 am

    Oh, we don’t really celebrate it here in the Philippines. But Its nice to see some photos of my friends wearing green and oh, the colorful parades’s just so fun 🙂

  13. Liz Mays permalink
    18/03/2016 9:49 am

    It’s funny how many things I’ve believed are true about the day aren’t. This was an interesting read!

  14. Nova permalink
    18/03/2016 9:58 am

    It’s the time of the year when everyone is wearing a nice color green because of the said Day.

  15. Idaintyit permalink
    18/03/2016 11:49 am

    Good post, there are so many fictional things about St. Patrick’s day that people seem to have made tradition

  16. Melissa Bernardo permalink
    18/03/2016 12:08 pm

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Beautiful photos!

  17. Aziel Morte permalink
    18/03/2016 1:01 pm

    Such an interesting post and a good information about St. Patricks day

  18. Dana Peller (@Pellerini) permalink
    18/03/2016 2:07 pm

    I didn’t know that St. Patrick wasn’t Irish! I learned a few new things from your post, thank you!

  19. Girl, Unspotted permalink
    18/03/2016 5:38 pm

    Oh this is an awesome compilation on facts and dubunking the myths of St. Patrick’s day. I had no idea the first ever was spent in America. And that he was kidnapped?! Thanks for the info!

  20. Jonathan W Key permalink
    18/03/2016 8:08 pm

    Happy belated St. Patrick’s day! Such a wonderful holiday to spread good cheer.

  21. Ana Fernandez permalink
    18/03/2016 8:37 pm

    Didn’t know about the color! It’s supposed to be blue? Wish I would have known this yesterday haha

  22. Bhushavali permalink
    19/03/2016 12:58 am

    Thanks for the facts & fictions list. In fact here in London, St . Patrick’s day wasn’t even a holiday!!

  23. jenjen (@existingJEN) permalink
    19/03/2016 2:49 am

    Great info you stated!

  24. Euge Nia permalink
    19/03/2016 4:01 am

    Wow! So many facts I didn’t know about this popular holiday such as the real St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish and was born in Great Britain and the original color associated with St. Patrick is blue, not green! Thanks for sharing such an interesting post! Happy Saint Paddy’s Day!

  25. Just Angela permalink
    19/03/2016 4:56 am

    Interesting read about St.Patrick’s, keep up the good work.

  26. Rosey permalink
    19/03/2016 6:29 am

    I laughed about the green. Who knew? I found the population numbers surprising too!

  27. shubhadabhide permalink
    19/03/2016 9:27 am

    Great post with great details. Didn’t know many things about St. Patrick’s day. Thanks for the share.

  28. fivemarigolds permalink
    19/03/2016 10:40 am

    This is such an interesting read. It’s amazing how many misconceptions get perpetuated about this holiday (like so many others!).

  29. Tami permalink
    19/03/2016 10:49 am

    I had never really taken the time to learn the history behind St. Patrick’s Day. It’s neat to find out what’s just fiction.

  30. Yonca permalink
    19/03/2016 12:28 pm

    Great post! Very inspiring and informative!

  31. Fashion Travels (@tauyanm) permalink
    19/03/2016 9:55 pm

    isn’t it cool to know that there is more irish in the US than in Ireland? Love all the facts here!

  32. Kendra permalink
    19/03/2016 10:33 pm

    Thanks for sharing these facts about St. Patrick’s Day! Is there really anything about the origin about the day that’s truly Irish?

  33. Yona Williams permalink
    19/03/2016 10:48 pm

    I think that it is baffling that there are more Irish people living in the U.S. than in Ireland – how can that be? And, I also think it is interesting that St. Patrick was not Irish.

    • 20/03/2016 10:54 pm

      I guess those who left home married and had lots of kids who also did same… It does happen and it’s a good thing 🙂

  34. Eileen xo permalink
    19/03/2016 10:55 pm

    I am 100 % Irish and enjoyed your post. In Ireland March 17 is not the same as it is here. . I celebrate my heritage by attending mass and I do attend NYC parade with my children and share stories of the pride of our history,. Thank you for such a wonderful history of my heritage. It is lovelyt

  35. Shannon Peterson permalink
    20/03/2016 12:00 am

    I had no idea that Saint Patrick wasn’t Irish, and that his name wasn’t even Patrick! How crazy!

  36. Arisa permalink
    20/03/2016 4:06 am

    Interesting, never knew the history and origins of Saint Patrick till you posted about it. Guess doing research about this festival never occurred to me.

  37. Pooja Kawatra Gupta permalink
    20/03/2016 5:58 am

    I have only heard about St Patrick day but not the real story or how it originated from and it is good to know about it.

  38. Eileen Mendoza Loya permalink
    20/03/2016 7:10 am

    Great trivia! I remember looking for a 4 leaf clover in my grandparent’s backyard. I know it is believed to bring good luck. I hope you had a meaningful St. Patrick’s day with your loved ones.

  39. Anosa permalink
    20/03/2016 1:20 pm

    I didn’t know all these facts, thank you for sharing. Its always good to learn new things about traditions

  40. momglenz permalink
    20/03/2016 2:10 pm

    Awesome photos you have here! thanks for sharing.

  41. Pal Raine permalink
    20/03/2016 10:50 pm

    Thanks so much for giving us this correct information about St. Patricks Day. I have many friends living in Ireland now, and they celebrate it by drinking tons of beer. I ask them why? They usually asnwer me, because it’s Irish Day—the Paddy’s way. And I am a bet of AHHHH???? Hahahaha… I don’t know or they don’t know what is St. Patricks Day at all…and just right now…I get it! Thanks.

  42. Maria Teresa Figuerres permalink
    21/03/2016 6:00 am

    Thanks for sharing the facts and myths about St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve learned a lot about this important celebration today just by reading your post.

  43. Kiwi permalink
    21/03/2016 12:04 pm

    Wow what amazing historIcal information I learn by this post about “St.Paddy” day! I didnt know it did start in America, that green wasnt the original color or that the irony of drinking in the past was to close down the pubs on this day because it was for religious beliefs. Wow this entire holiday has been flipped upside down!


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