Seven Things You Didn’t Know About St. Patrick’s Day
Here are some trivia facts for you to share while you're celebrating--if you can remember them after all of those Guinnesses.
St. Patrick's Day is, of course, a celebration of Irish culture (or, usually Irish-American culture). But, despite the name, we tend to talk little about St. Patrick himself and where all of this originated.
1.) His name probably wasn't Patrick.
Popular belief now is that his birth name wasn't Patrick at all, but was instead Maewyn Succat. He took the name Patricious upon becoming a priest.
2.) We should probably be wearing blue on St. Patrick's Day.
Not only was he not associated with the color green during his time, he actually lends his name to various shades of blue throughout Ireland.
So, what's the deal with the green? According to the Christian Science Monitor:
[Wearing green started] in the 17th Century. Green is one of the colors in Ireland’s tri-color flag, and it has been used in the flags of several Irish revolutionary groups throughout history. Ireland is the “Emerald Isle,” so named for its lush green landscape.
3.) St. Patrick wasn't born in Ireland.
Brace yourself: St. Patrick was born in Roman England. He came to Ireland after being enslaved by Irish pirates. He escaped after six years, returned to Britain, and later on went back to Ireland as a missionary.
4.) The shamrock was part of his Christian teaching.
The clover associated with St. Patrick is actually based in some truth: when he was spreading Christianity, he would use the shamrock in his teaching: each leaf represents a member of the Holy Trinity.
5.) St. Patrick almost certainly never ate corned beef and cabbage.
Yes, the food most commonly associated with St. Paddy's Day here in the United States has very little actual Irish heritage to it. Instead, it's mostly an Irish-American dish:
Though cabbage has historically been a staple of the Irish diet (along with potatoes), it was traditionally eaten with Irish bacon, not corned beef. Irish immigrants in America could not afford the bacon, so they substituted it with corned beef, a cheaper alternative they picked up from Jewish immigrants.
6.) That other food item we consume--y'know, beer? That wasn't part of the holiday for a long time, either.
Put down your Guinness for a moment so you don't drop it. Your beloved consumption of green-dyed beer and stouts wasn't always associated with the holiday. At least, not in Ireland. According to Catholic.org:
Irish law, from 1903 to 1970, declared St. Patrick's Day a religious observance for the entire country meaning that all pubs were shut down for the day. That meant no beer, not even the green kind, for public celebrants. The law was overturned in 1970, when St. Patrick's was reclassified as a national holiday - allowing the taps to flow freely once again.
7.) Despite that, it's now one of the biggest beer days of the year.
In the year 2012, St. Patrick's Day beer sales were in the range of $245 million. For one day. In 2011, Guinness alone sold 3.5 million pints, as opposed to their typical daily sale of 600,000.
8.) More than one Guinness is not "Guinnesses" but is instead "Guinnii."
So when you stroll up to the bar, show you're an expert by saying "I'll have three ginn-eye, barkeep!" They will respect you and your knowledge of beer and Irish culture.
9.) Fact number 8 is entirely made up.
Not only is "Guinnesses" correct, you will look like all time spaz number one if you call your bartender "barkeep." What can I say? I've gotten into the Guinnii early.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!