St. Patrick Isn’t Even Irish or Patrick: The Patron Saint of Ireland was born in Britain into an aristocratic family and named Maewyn. He was kidnapped and sent off to be a slave tending sheep in Ireland. According to legend, he escaped, returned home and studied to become a priest, and went back to Ireland to convert his pagan captors to Christianity.
Made in America: Saint Patrick’s Day was only a minor religious holiday in Ireland. The huge celebration that St Paddy’s Day has become was the creation of American-Irish looking for another reason to imbibe! The Irish have since hopped on board with the festivities and traditions as it draws tourism and boosts the economy and the sales of Guinness.
The Shamrock is Saintly (and Growing Scarce): Irish folklore tells that one of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish people. Harsh winters have made good luck even harder to come by. Shamrocks are scarce, and imposter, 3-leaf clovers are being peddled as the authentic lucky leafs.
Green Isn’t So Lucky: Though it's customary to wear green on St. Patrick's Day in the United States, in Ireland, according to an expert on Irish culture and customs, the color was long considered to be unlucky. But when you consider the alternative, it’s not great luck to be pinched all day for not going green.
Drink to Your Health: On St. Patrick's Day people often toast to “Slainté!"—the Irish word for "health." Ironically, the stout that they drink to may actually have health-related benefits! Some American Heart Association researchers reported that Guinness may be as effective as daily aspirin in reducing the blood clots that cause heart attacks. (The benefit derives from antioxidants, which the researchers said reduce cholesterol deposits on arterial walls. The compounds are found in dark Irish stouts, but not their paler cousins.)
Drinking Banned on St. Patrick’s Day: Because the celebration fell during Lent, Irish pubs were legally closed on St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish have since lifted the ban and more than a few mugs of beer to celebrate.
Sinners, Not Snakes: Saint Patrick reportedly drove the snakes out of Ireland and cast them into the Irish Sea. It seems snakes are not indigenous to the Emerald Isle, but pagans were. St. Patrick spent 30 years trying to drive the sinners out of Ireland and drive more pagans to convert to Christianity.
The Longest Parade: New York's St. Patrick's Day parade is the longest running civilian parade in the world.
That’s about all the Saint Patrick’s baloney we came up with, but if you are one of the 34 million Americans with roots back to Ireland, we’re sure you can share some of your blarney!