7 facts about St. Patrick’s Day you won’t believe!
1. In 1962 the city of Chicago dyed a portion of the Chicago River green for St. Patrick’s Day.
In 1962, the city of Chicago dyed the Chicago river green for the first time in honor of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. Unsure of how much dye would be needed to turn it completely green, the business manager of the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union, a man by the name of Stephen Bailey, dumped a massive 100 lbs of green vegetable dye into the river. The green hue lasted for a whole week! Since then, the river is dyed in Chicago every year by the Plumbers Local 110 union by dumping just 40 lbs as opposed to the 100 lbs used in 1962. The shade of green used in the river is referred to as “Kelly” green. The dye, however, only lasts for about five hours.
2. St. Patrick was not Irish.
Ever wonder why we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th? Well, that’s because March 17th is the date the illustrious namesake saint died. Saint Patrick, a saint of the Catholic Church and patron saint of Ireland, was born in England as sent to Ireland as a slave. Once freed, he spent most of his adult life converting the pagans of Ireland to Christianity. We celebrate his life and patronage on the anniversary of his death, or rather, a those of the faith would consider it, his ascent into heaven. Although he is the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick was actually not Irish. Born in 385 AD, his parents were really Roman citizens and lived in what is now England.
3. Over 13,000,000 pints of Guinness are consumed globally on St. Patrick’s Day!
It is estimated that more than 13,000,000 pints of classic Irish stout Guinness are poured and consumed around the world on St. Patrick’s Day. That amount is enough to fill 60% of the Empire State Building in New York City! The original Guinness brewery in Dublin, Ireland has 8,750 years left on its lease, due to the fact that Arthur Guinness, creator of the famous drink, signed a 9,000-year lease on the building. At the current production rate at the St. James’s Gate Brewery, that means that in the 8,750 years left on the lease at the flagship brewery, more than 12.8 billion pint of Guinness will be made. I’ll cheers to that!
4. 83% of adults in the United States will wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.
Ever had the fear of being pinched for not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day? You’re not the only one! It is estimated that around 83% of adults in the United States will wear green on St. Patrick’s day. That amounts to about 102 million people! Shoulder to shoulder those 102 million people could span the distance from New York to California…4 times! The color green is associated with St. Patrick’s day because of its association with the Irish independence movement in the late 18th century. The official color of the holiday’s namesake however, was a light shade of blue known as “Saint Patrick’s blue”.
5. You have a 1 in 10,000 chance of finding a four-leaf clover.
The clover, or shamrock, is a green plant that is commonly associated with Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day. In popular superstition, finding a four-leaved clover is considered outstanding good luck. The shamrock became ubiquitous with St. Patrick as he originally used the plant as a teaching tool. It is said that the saint used the three-leaved clover to explain the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) to the pagan Irish he was attempting to convert to Catholicism. The shamrock, although widely synonymous with Ireland today, is not however, the official symbol of Ireland. The official symbol is the harp, which can be found, amongst other places, on the Irish passport.
6. St. Patrick wanted us to drink on his special day.
That’s right guys, drink up, that’s what he wanted! It is said that St Patrick himself was said to have declared that everyone should have a drop of the "hard stuff" on his feast day. It is speculated that he made this proclamation after chastising an innkeeper who served him too short a measure of whiskey. A custom was born of this known as "drowning the shamrock". In this custom, the shamrock, that has been worn on a lapel or hat on St. Patrick’s Day, is put into the last drink of the evening. It appears as though people are really honoring St. Patrick’s wishes, as it is estimated that more than $250 million is spent on beer ALONE for the holiday.
7. 1 in 161 Americans is named Patrick.
Sorry Patrick Murphy, you are far from being the only one out there! The most common Irish last name is Murphy and it is estimated that 1 in 161 Americans are named Patrick. This amounts to almost 2 million people, which is more than the whole population of Ireland’s capital city, Dublin. In fact, the United States boats more Irish than Ireland itself! More than 34 million American claim Irish ancestry. Boston, Massachusetts has one of the highest percentages of Irish roots, with over a quarter of people in the city having Irish heritage. This isn’t just a modern phenomenon too, as over 190,000 Irish-born Americans fought in the American Civil War and nine of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence were Irish.