Facts and Myths! About St. Patrick’s Day

4 LEAF CLOVER

How many St. Patrick’s Day facts do you know? Probably that it falls on March 17th and honors the Catholic saint who legendarily chased snakes from Ireland. Well, if that’s all you know then check out these fun facts about the day called “Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona duit!” in Irish:

How St. Patrick's Day Originated

  • Patrick’s Day began as a religious holiday to honor St. Patrick, who brought Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century.
  • The first parade for the holiday occurred in New York City on March 17, 1762. It featured Irish soldiers who served in the English military. In 1948, President Harry S. Truman attended the parade.
  • In 1991, Congress proclaimed March to be Irish-American Heritage Month to honor the achievements and contributions of Irish immigrants and their descendants who are living in the United States today.

Why Do People Wear Green on St. Patrick’s Day?

  • The fact that Ireland is an island—as well as green with leafy trees and grassy hills—means that the nation is sometimes called the Emerald Isle. But the color that people originally associated with St. Patrick was blue! (Some ancient Irish flags even sport this color.)
  • Green was finally introduced to St. Patrick’s Day festivities in the 18th century, when the shamrock (which is, of course, green) became a national symbol. Because of the shamrock’s popularity and Ireland’s landscape, the color stuck to the holiday.
  • Green is also the color that mythical fairies called leprechauns like to dress in—today, at least. But tales about leprechauns date back to before green was in: The fairies were first described as wearing red.

How did the shamrock become associated with St. Patrick?

  • According to Irish legend, the saint used the three-leafed plant (which is not to be confused with the four-leaf clover) as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity when he was first introducing Christianity to Ireland.
  • There are approximately 10,000 three-leaf clovers for every “lucky” four-leaf clover. There are no clover plants that naturally produce four leaves, which is why four-leaf clovers are so rare.
  • The leaves of four-leaf clovers are said to stand for faith, hope, love, and luck.

How can my family celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year?

  • Join Georgetown Hill in the RIO Washingtonian St. Patrick’s Day Parade? The 20th annual parade starts at 10am on Saturday, March 14th, 2020!
  • Dozens of participants will march in the parade, including Celtic dancers, bagpipe bands, clowns, fire trucks, and GEORGETOWN HILL! When the parade is over there will be live entertainment on the Lakefront Plaza until 1pm.