Little Known Facts and Oddities of St. Patrick’s Day

I was wondering how St. Patrick’s Day came about and decided to do a little research on the subject. These ten interesting facts were among the information that I found. Most of them I had never heard before, perhaps that is why I found them so interesting….Brenda Skipper ,



1) There are more Americans of Irish origin than there are Irish in Ireland. In Delaware, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire Irish is the leading ancestral group.


2) St. Patrick’s Day got its American start in 1737 in Boston. We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day to remember the achievements St. Patrick made during his time.


3) St. Patrick’s given name was Maewyn Succat and he was born in Britain around 385 AD. At age 16 he was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. During his 6 years as a slave he turned to religion for solace. He escaped slavery and made his way to Gaul where he changed his name to Patrick and studied in the monastery under St. Germain.


4) St. Patrick converted pagans to Christianity, angering the Celtic Druids who threw him in prison many time as a result.


5) It is believed that St. Patrick died on March 17th, the day that we now celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. March 17th is also feast day in Ireland.


6) The actual color of St. Patrick is blue. Green became associated with St. Patrick’s Day during the 19th century. Green, in Irish legends, was worn by fairies and immortals, and also by people to encourage their crops to grow.


7) St. Patrick’s celebrations were originally religious festivals; up until the 1970s Irish law mandated that pubs be closed on St. Patrick’s Day. In 1995 the Irish government used St. Patrick’s day to drive tourism to Ireland.


8) St. Patrick did not actually drive snakes out of Ireland; the snakes represent the Pagans that he converted to Christianity.


9) The first organized St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held in New York in 1762. The parade consisted of Irish soldiers serving in the English military, the parade helped them reconnect with their Irish roots.


10) The shamrock, which was also called the “seamroy” by the Celts, was a sacred plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolized the rebirth of spring. According to legend, St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity ( God exists as three persons–father, son, and the Holy Spirit) to the Irish.



1. The most famous legend regarding St. Patrick is that he rid Ireland of snakes by ringing his bell from the top of Croagh Patrick, the 2500 feet tall, conical mountain near Westport. Of course this isn’t a true fact, but makes for an amusing anecdote. The mountain however has become a place of annual pilgrimage. There is an ancient church at the top and at the base a natural spring well known as Patrick’s well or Tobair Padraig – St. Patrick supposedly baptized the first Irish converts at this well.


2. St. Patrick is also supposed to have rid Ireland – specifically County Donegal – of a fierce lake monster. After he had killed it, the blood turned the lake red and so since then the lake has been known as Red Lake or Lough Derg. It is now a pilgrimage place and many people go there between 1 June and 15 August in the fond hope that the journey will rid them of all their sins.


3. It is wholly due to St. Patrick’s French sojourn that Hawthorn bushes bloom in the winter in the Loire Valley. He crossed the Loire River, hung his cape to dry on a Hawthorn bush, and that is how this miracle came about.


4. St. Patrick did not always have a saintly temper. Sometimes he lost it and let the curses fly. Some of his curses, with the help of geographical occurrences, worked – like the one that made a certain field sink under the sea and thereby useless for cultivation. St. Patrick’s oxen had been refused permission to graze there and that had riled him a bit.


5. St. Patrick had a strong sense of justice. Once he cured a blind man, but a certain individual who had laughed at the blind fellow promptly went blind alongside.


6. According to legend, wearying of St. Bridget’s constant complaints about the traditional social mores requiring women to wait for marriage proposals to come their way or forget about the matter entirely, St. Patrick instituted the practice of allowing women to propose to men on a Leap Year. The reason he didn’t make it an every day occurrence can perhaps be gleaned from the fact that on the very next Leap Year he found himself on the receiving end of a proposal from St. Bridget herself. He couldn’t withstand the constant complaints, he would have been ploughed down by the constant proposals.


7. St. Patrick brought public attention to the humble Shamrock, after using a three-leafed specimen to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – to the pagan King Laoghaire of Tara.


8. St. Patrick incorporated pagan elements into Christianity to make the religion more palatable to the new converts.


9. St. Patrick built the first church in Ireland at Mag-inis.


10. St. Patrick’s favorite color was blue, not green, and the people of Ireland too weren’t exactly fond of green – according to them it was the color of the Fairies and Leprechauns and, unless you wanted to forcibly join the ranks of these Wee Folks, you would refrain from sporting that color too often. It wasn’t until the 19th Century that Green became the official color of Ireland.


11. St. Patrick ordered that after death he be buried wherever the oxen pulling his funeral cart stopped. They reportedly didn’t go further than Downpatrick, so he’s buried somewhere there.


12. People didn’t actually start praying to St. Patrick until the eighth century A.D. The Vatican followed suit much later.


13. The first hymn to be composed in Ireland was composed in St. Patrick’s honor. It was called; appropriately enough, Hymn in Patrick’s Praise, was composed by St. Sechnall, and ran to 23 stanzas.


14. It is not known when exactly St. Patrick’s Day began to be celebrated outside Ireland, but the first written description come from Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels, who mentions the celebrations of 1713 in London. According to him, the Westminster Parliament took a holiday on this day and all the public buildings had green decorations.


15. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in America was held in Boston on 17 March 1737 and the practice began in New York on 17 March 1762. Chicago followed suit later and has a tradition – since 1962 – of dyeing the Chicago river green with vegetable dyes. St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over now and is the longest running civilian parade in the world – a secular celebration in which ‘all the world becomes Irish’. Such statements, of course, annoy the real Irish no end. Everyone wants to have the Luck of the Irish, they say, and no whit of our Troubles.


16. Strangely though it’s only been 75 years since Dublin began having a St. Patrick’s Day parade, and even more peculiarly, until 1995, the Dublin Pubs used to be closed on this National Holiday.


17. St. Patrick’s Day began to be celebrated on the Caribbean island of Monsterrat in the 17th Century. Thanks to Oliver Cromwell of England – many Irish went to Monsterrat to escape him.


18. On St. Patrick’s Day, you can bring yourself good luck by finding a four-leaf clover, wearing green, and kissing the Blarney Stone.


19. In 1900 Queen Victoria decreed that Irish Regiments should wear the shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day in memory of the Irish Soldiers killed in the Boer War.


20. A large percentage of Catholic Cathedrals the world over are named after St. Patrick.


By Sonal Panse,


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5 thoughts on “Little Known Facts and Oddities of St. Patrick’s Day

  1. So ST. Patrick became a christain and converted many pagans. I find that very interesting as I am a pagan. I will still continue celebrating the day and the wearin’ o’ the green. Perhaps I should change to blue.

    I do enjoy learning bits of histry such as this.

  2. Happy St Patrick’s day to you. You may be interested in the true background to the legend that St Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland. It’s here
    (Well, it makes me laugh anyway.)

  3. He did not convert the whole of Ireland that would be just stupid to even think he did so,,He converted some up North .but Christianity was already here,I mean how do you think he learned of it himself?…He didn’t just lay in a field minding sheep and suddenly a light came he learned of it from listening to ppl around him…Plus he was welsh..and that whole thing about leap year and st bridget is wrong..I don’t know where you got your info from

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