If you’re anything like us, the odds are you’re already gearing up for some St. Patty’s Day festivities of your own, even if the holiday is still a few months away.
Even if you’re a die-hard fan of this traditional Irish holiday, there’s still plenty that we’d wager you don’t know about St. Patrick’s Day. That’s why we’re here to blow your mind with some little-known facts about your favorite day of the year.
If you dive into the history behind St. Patrick’s Day, there’s one fact that becomes undeniably clear: St. Patrick was a badass. Now the patron saint of Ireland, Patrick was actually born in Roman Britain (present-day Wales/Scotland) in the late 300s AD. The young Brit relocated to Ireland against his will as a teenager for one simple reason: He was kidnapped by Irish raiders.
Kidnappers took young Patrick to Ireland, where he was forced into slavery. However, good old Pat managed to escape, eventually returning to Ireland to spread the message of Christianity. He sounds like a pretty good-natured guy to us, and he’s even credited with making the shamrock a sacred plant to the population of Ireland.
Here’s a little bonus fact for you: the reason that shamrocks are so closely associated with St. Patrick’s Day is because of a little theological illustration that Patrick used while preaching in Ireland.
Patrick compared the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity to the three leaves on a typical three-leaf clover. Thanks to this illustration, the shamrock is now a frequently-used symbol in churches worldwide. You go, Patrick.
St. Patrick is a long-revered holy man over in Ireland, but the Irish weren’t the first to give Pat his own holiday. For that, you can thank the US-of-A.
It’s true. St. Patrick’s Day originated in colonial America in the early 1600s. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was supposedly held in St. Augustine, Florida, where the resident vicar was an Irishman.
However, St. Augustine was in Spanish-owned territory, so most of the people participating in the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade were Spaniards without a drop of Irish ancestry in them. Pretty ironic.
There are even more St. Patrick’s Day traditions that didn’t originate in Ireland, too. One standout example is the meal that’s now closely associated with the holiday—corned beef and cabbage. While you might think that a plate of corned beef and cabbage is native to Ireland, it was actually first cooked up by Irish-American immigrants living in New York City.
One traditional aspect of St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations is playing lots and lots of Celtic music. Originating from the people who lived in Ireland in ancient times, Celtic music and St. Patrick’s Day fit together like a leprechaun and a pot of gold. But where did this music come from? The answer might surprise you.
When Ireland was overtaken by the British, the Celts were strictly prohibited from speaking their native language. Even under the threat of English oppression, the Irish were unwilling to let go of their Irish heritage. These brave people kept on making music with a distinct flair and sound.
That music is now what you’ll hear if you walk into a typical Irish pub on St. Patrick’s Day, and it’s characterized by instruments like the bagpipes, the fiddle, the tin whistle, and more.
The Celts had to persist in an oppressive environment to keep their musical traditions going. Queen Elizabeth I, the English ruler who reigned over captive Ireland for a time, even administered the death penalty for Celtic musicians who wouldn’t stop playing their native music.
If you’re a big fan of St. Patrick’s Day and Irish lore, you’re probably familiar with the story of how St. Patrick banished snakes from Ireland. Legend has it that Ireland was, at one point, overrun by a rampant snake population, and the people of the Emerald Isle called on Patrick for help.
As the story goes, St. Patrick stood on top of a hill and used his holy power to command all of the snakes in Ireland to slither away and bother someone else.
Travelers to Ireland who have heard this legend often note that there really are no snakes in Ireland – which must mean that St. Patrick drove them away, right? Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. The reality is that there were never any snakes in Ireland to begin with, aside from the few that are kept as pets by Irish citizens.
The reason? Ireland historically hasn’t been home to any reptiles except for the common lizard since the Ice Age. Does the fact that St. Patrick never drove the snakes out of Ireland make him any less of a boss? Not to us. We still love you, Pat.
One figure that’s often associated with St. Patrick’s Day is the iconic Irish leprechaun. Typically depicted as a cranky little man with a bushy red beard wearing a green hat and suit, the traditional leprechaun comes from Irish folklore.
According to legend, leprechauns typically live alone and work as shoemakers. In their free time, they’re said to enjoy playing pranks on humans. So, next time you’re late to work, just tell your boss that a leprechaun hid your car keys.
Before leprechauns became mainstays in Irish folklore, there was another wily figure that you’d often hear about in traditional Irish tales—the Celtic fairy. Fairies are thought to be the predecessors of leprechauns in Ireland, and there are some distinct similarities between the stories about both mythological residents.
The fairies and leprechauns in Irish folklore are both thought to have magical powers, which they sometimes use to play tricks on unsuspecting humans.
What about the legend of the leprechaun and the pot of gold? This iconic image instantly brings back memories of St. Patrick’s Days past, and it’s also a part of Irish folklore.
One Irish legend says that fairies are known to leave a pot of gold coins at the end of every rainbow, and that pot of gold is guarded by leprechauns. A leprechaun’s pot of gold contains one coin for each year the leprechaun has lived.
When St. Patrick’s Day comes around, you know you have to look sharp. After all, if you’re going to be getting lucky on your favorite Irish holiday, you need to be in your finest festive apparel. If you don’t have anything in your wardrobe suitable for St. Patty’s, we’re here to help.
We’ve got plenty of hilarious St. Patrick’s Day clothes to wear this year, including:
So whether you are headed to the Hot Springs, Arkansas for the shortest parade or Illinois to watch Irish Americans (and everyone else) dye the Chicago River green, we've got you.
Whether it’s St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, Christmas, or any other day of the year, we at Famous IRL are here to help you look your best and stand out in a crowd. Visit our online shop for the best graphic tees on the internet and much more.