The 6 things you need to know about Ireland’s favourite holiday
St Patricks day is nearly here and here are 6 interesting facts about one of the most celebrated days in Ireland and Irish communities worldwide.
Pints of Guinness supped: 13 million
The global corporate-relations director of Guinness says 5.5 million pints of Guinness are sold on any given day. On St Patrick's Day, this figure rises to an astonishing 13 million.
In Chicago they dye a river green
In 1961, then business manager of Chicago’s Journeymen Plumbers Local Union, Stephen Bailey, got permission to turn the Chicago River green for St Patrick’s Day. That time they used 100lbs of vegetable dye as they weren't sure how much was needed - the river then stayed green for a week. These days they just use 25lbs.
Saint Patrick banished snakes from Ireland
Well, this isn't strictly true. While he was said to have got rid of all the slithering creatures, as they were thought to be symbolic of the pagan druid priests he disagreed with, Ireland technically never had any snakes to begin with. The official colour should be blue, not green. For many years blue was the colour most commonly associated with St Patrick, as green was considered unlucky. St Patrick’s blue was considered symbolic of Ireland for centuries, and the Irish coat of arms is still blue.
All the pubs used to shut
Bizarrely, up until the 1970s Irish law banned pubs from opening on March 17 as a mark of respect for the religious day. The worry was that leaving the pubs open would be too tempting for some people during Lent.
The Irish didn't invent the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade
Nope, this tradition actually began in the US, with the first one taking place in Boston on March 18, 1737. This was followed by the New York Parade in 1762 - it took Ireland more than a century to jump on the bandwagon. The first St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin took place in 1931 and now it's truly global. The biggest one in Britain is held in Birmingham, which is the third largest in the world after Dublin and New York.
St Patrick wasn't actually Irish...
This is the kind of thing you'd be caught out on watching QI... Turns out he was actually from Wales. That's right - don't spill your Guinness - the man regarded as the founder of Christianity in Ireland was actually born in the tiny village of Banwen in 385 AD. At the age of 16, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland to work as a shepherd. He later escaped, then returned to Ireland when he was 28 as a Bishop after having a dream the people were calling him back to educate them about God.