When March 17th rolls around, you may be ready to celebrate with shamrocks, leprechauns and gold coins, but you may not know that St. Patrick’s Day has a long and interesting history. There are many fun facts about St. Patrick’s Day that may come as a surprise to the casual observer. These facts can just be fun to know, or can add to a lesson or celebration. Here are some facts you may not know about St. Patrick’s Day-
St. Patrick’s Day is only a public holiday for a select few-You may be used to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with some school activities, and perhaps dinner with family and friends. Well, it turns out you would be in the majority. Most St. Patrick’s Day celebrants spend the day like usual at work or school. While the holiday is celebrated in many locations all throughout the world, only a few locales encourage everyone to celebrate the holiday publicly. The first location that may surprise you is a very small island in the Caribbean that is sometimes referred to as the Caribbean’s “Emerald Island”. Montserrat is recognized as being one of only a few places (actually just three countries) that make St. Patrick’s Day a public holiday. This could probably be due in part to the large amount of refugees of Irish descent that emigrated from other Caribbean islands (specifically Nevis and St. Kitts) to the Montserrat. In Labrador and Newfoundland, St. Patrick’s Day is also celebrated publicly. However, it should be noted that in Labrador and Newfoundland, the holiday is held in remembrance of a 1798 slave uprising (that ultimately failed), that took place. And finally, of course March 17 is a holiday for everyone in the Emerald Island itself, Ireland.
St. Patrick’s Day hasn’t always been green-Most people associate the color green with St. Patrick’s Day; however, you may be surprised to learn that blue was the original color of the holiday. In fact, at one point blue was much more popular in conjunction with the holiday than green was. The use of blue as the color of St. Patrick’s Day relates back to St. Patrick himself wearing blue and not green! However, if you dare to go out on St. Patrick’s Day without some green on you should expect to get pinched! In ancient Irish tradition, green was the symbol of new life and crop growth, as well as those who believed in the pagan religions; they saw green as the color worn by the fairies and other immortal creatures. There are some people today who even see the wearing of the green as an unlucky symbol that represents the time when Ireland was not free. Blue was what the Irish military wore, and referred to it as the blue of St. Patrick, on their uniforms. In addition, Henry VIII used a flag with a gold harp and blue background, when he declared himself King of Ireland. However, in today’s modern world green is the color that is most associated with St. Patrick’s Day. The city of Chicago celebrates St. Patrick’s Day in a big way when they dye the Chicago River green using about forty pounds of vegetable dye for a memorable effect.
St. Patrick’s Day even gets recognized at McDonalds-While there are many retailers who try to cash in on just about any holiday, when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day one of the most successful is McDonalds. Their green mint shake is one of their most popular items that they market, you guessed it, right before March 17th! So if you just want a treat to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day then just know that you don’t have to go any further then your local McDonalds!