Even if you're not Irish, chances are you know all about St. Patrick's Day already. After all, it's hard to miss with the overabundance of shamrocks, leprechauns, corned beef and cabbage, and green beer. But what is everyone celebrating, really? Do you know? If not, don't beat yourself up with the plastic shillelagh you picked up at the dollar store. Instead, take a minute to learn about the real meaning behind St. Patrick's Day and, this year, celebrate all things Irish with authenticity.
Here are some interesting facts to share around the water cooler that you may not have known about St. Patrick's Day:
1. St. Patrick's Day is a religious holiday
Yes, you read that correctly! While most of the world celebrates St. Patrick's Day as an Irish-themed beerfest, Patrick was a real person who dedicated his life to Christian missionary work. His goal was to convert the Irish people, who worshiped pagan gods, to Christianity through sharing the gospel as he lived among them. Tradition says that the shamrock was the symbol he used to explain the Holy Trinity (Father/Son/Holy Spirit) to the people. According to religious tradition, Patrick died on March 17, which is why he is celebrated each year on that day.
2. St. Patrick was not Irish
It's true that the most Irish day of the year is celebrated for a man who wasn't even Irish himself. In fact, the missionary known as St. Patrick was born in the fourth century to a wealthy Roman Britain family. After being kidnapped by slave traders, Patrick was forced into slavery in Ireland, where he eventually converted to Christianity. After many years, he ran away, but eventually returned to confront pagans with the story of Jesus Christ.
3. The original color of St. Patrick's Day wasn't green
Normally, on St. Patrick's Day, the world is awash in green, but originally, the color used to commemorate St. Patrick was blue. When an Anglo-Irish order formed to perform good deeds, called the Order of St. Patrick, which was founded in 1783, blue was chosen as the color to represent St. Patrick. It wasn't until years later that green became associated with St. Patrick because it also represented Irish nationalism.
4. St. Patrick's Day is celebrated by more non-Irish than Irish people
In many countries, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated by everyone, regardless of their national heritage or religious beliefs. In fact, in some countries, St. Patrick's Day celebrations, some of which last the entire month of March, are held in which the Catholic Church and the Irish locals have no association with whatsoever.
5. Most St. Patrick's Day traditions were adopted by the Irish, not started by them
Wearing green is one of the only St. Patrick's Day traditions that started with the Irish people. The rest, such as eating corned beef and cabbage, dying beer green, wearing a shamrock on the lapel and symbolizing the day with leprechauns, are all aspects of celebration that were started apart from Irish celebrations. However, many Irish towns and businesses adopted such traditions to attract tourists.
Did you know any of these St. Patrick's Day facts already? If so, you may be Irish at heart!