Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

May the roof above us never fall in, and may we friends beneath it never fall out!” – A toast to St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! St. Patty’s Day may seem like all fun and (drinking) games, but did you know from 1903 to 1970, most Irish celebrants spent St. Patty’s Day praying quietly in mass services? That’s right—the feast of St. Patrick’s Day honors a 5th-century Welsh saint, who is said to have escaped enslavement and then brought Christianity to Ireland. I love St. Patrick’s Day because it’s the perfect way to say goodbye to the winter blues and hello to a new warmer season (unless, you live in Austin, of course, where it’s always warm). In honor of the holiday, I bring you 7 of the luckiest facts about St. Patrick’s Day:

1)   The first American St. Patrick’s Day parade took place on March 1762 in New York. The parade was used as a way to build camaraderie among the many Irishmen serving in the English army at the time. Today, the NYC parade is the biggest in the country, drawing a crowd of about 3 million every year and spanning a mile and a half.

2)   The shamrock—the most popular symbol of the holiday—is believed to represent spiritual rejuvenation. The four leaves of the clover stand for faith, hope, love and luck.

3)   22 U.S. presidents boast an Irish heritage, including Barack Obama. Ironically, it was JFK, perhaps most famous for his Celtic roots, who forgot it was St. Patrick’s Day when meeting with the Irish ambassador to America on March 17, 1961.

4)   Blue was the original color representing the holiday, not green. But Chicagoans have never seemed to care—every year 40 lbs. of green dye are dumped into the Chicago River to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

5)   “Drowning the Shamrock,” involves placing a shamrock at the bottom of the last drink of the day, and then throwing the clover over your shoulder when you have finished it. It is believed that this ritual will bring the drinker prosperity for the rest of the year, so bottoms up!

6)   It is little wonder that St. Patrick’s Day is widely-celebrated in the United States, since more than 36 million Americans claim Irish ancestry (that’s more than the country of Ireland!). But St. Patrick’s Day is now celebrated internationally, with large parades and all kinds of festivities held in places like Singapore, Japan, and Russia.

7)   5.5 million pints of Guinness are consumed every year. That number more than doubles to 13 million pints on St. Patrick’s Day alone.

Be safe this holiday and if you’re in the Austin area, be sure to catch the 15th Annual Outdoor St. Patrick’s Day Festival happening downtown.

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