Growing up in an Irish household, St. Patrick's Day was one of my family's favorite holidays.
Every year we'd be covered from head to toe in green and go march in our city's parade. My mother would hide chocolate coins around the house, which were left behind by the "leprechauns," in our ultimate search for the pot of gold.
But to be honest, despite my heritage, I didn't know much about St. Patrick's Day, aside from its present day cultural impact. So, I decided to do research on the beloved holiday, and dug up these 10 awesome facts.
1. Despite being the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick was British
Starting the list off with a shocker, the patron saint of Ireland wasn't even Irish! The young man was sold into slavery when he was only 16 years old and brought over to Ireland. He eventually escaped his shackles and became a priest.
2. Patrick wasn't his real name either
Born Maewyn Succat, the patron saint decided to change his name to Patricius when joined the priesthood. While it's a lovely name, I don't think Patrick has the same ring to it.
3. And he never chased any snakes away
Shocking right? Even though the legend says St. Patrick chased away all of the snakes terrorizing Ireland, there is no evidence the country ever had any of those slithery creatures mucking around.
4 .There are more Irish people in the United States than there are in Ireland
At first I had to do a double take when I saw these numbers, but it's true! There are about 34.5 million Irish-Americans in the U.S. compared to the 4.68 million citizens in Ireland.
While the U.S.'s number is about seven times larger, it should be noted that the country's also the home to a whopping 323.1 million people.
5. Instead of green, we should all be wearing blue
While it would be startling to see any other color representing the Irish holiday, St. Patrick's color is actually blue! In fact, most of the country's original representations were draped in the symbolic color, including one of their flags.
Eventually, green became associated with the annual holiday following the Irish independence movement in the late 18th century.
6. It began as a dry holiday
While we presently associate cold brew (or two) with St. Patrick's Day, it hasn't always been the case.
For the majority of the 20th century, St. Patrick's Day was strictly a religious holiday in Ireland - which meant all pubs and taverns had to be closed down. However, in 1970, it became reclassified as a national holiday, and the Irish joined their American counterparts in drinking the sudsy booze.
7. The shamrock was once used as a teaching tool
While shamrocks can be found all over the world, there's a reason we directly relate it to Ireland. It's believed St. Patrick used the three-leaf clover to represent the Holy Trinity, (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) when teaching Christianity to the Irish.
8. The Chicago river is annually dyed green
Certainly unnatural, the Chicago river becomes a dazzling "Kelly" green once a year to commemorate the holiday. Don't waste time if you want to see it in person though, because the dye only lasts for about five hours.
9. The largest St. Patrick's Day parade is held in New York
While you might wonder why New York hosts the world's largest St. Patrick's Day parade instead of a town actually in Ireland, just remind yourself there isn't a thing the city that never sleeps doesn't do.
Beginning in 1752 (yes, it's been going on for that long), more than 250,000 people have been walking in the parade, as motorized floats still aren't allowed.
10. Female leprechauns don't exist
Yes, we know male leprechauns technically aren't real either, but in traditional Irish folk tales, their female counterparts are never mentioned. This leads me to have several, unanswerable questions.
What's your favorite St. Patrick's Day fact?