What is Saint Patrick’s Day Really All About?

With Saint Patrick’s Day right around the corner (Monday to be exact), I got to wondering today what exactly St. Patrick’s Day was (other than an excuse for day-long beer drinking, that is) all about. Here is what I was able to find – a brief history and some fun St. Patty’s Day Trivia, courtesy of the History Channel.

Who was Patrick and what is St. Patrick’s Day?

A pagan, St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity’s most widely known figures. But for all his celebrity, his life remains somewhat of a mystery. Many of the stories traditionally associated with St. Patrick, including the famous account of his banishing all the snakes from Ireland, are false, the products of hundreds of years of exaggerated storytelling.

The modern secular holiday is based on the original Christian saint’s feast day also thought to be the date of the saint’s death. In 1737, Irish immigrants to the United States began observing the holiday publicly in Boston and held the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City in 1766.

Fun St. Patty’s Day Facts:

– There are 34.7 million U.S. residents who claim Irish ancestry. This number is almost nine times the population of Ireland itself (4.2 million). Irish is the nation’s second most frequently reported ancestry, trailing only those of German ancestry. (The ancestry estimates exclude people living in group quarters).

– About 41.6 billion pounds of U.S. beef and 2.4 billion pounds of cabbage were sold in 2005. Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dish. The corned beef celebrants dine on may very well have originated in Texas, which produced 7.3 billion pounds worth of beef, while the cabbage most likely came from California, which produced 466 million pounds worth, or New York (456 million pounds).

Americans annually consume 21.6 gallons of beer per capita. On St. Patrick’s Day, you may be able to order green-dyed beer at one of the nation’s 47,984 drinking places, some of which may be Irish pubs.

There were 387 breweries registered in 2004. The nation’s breweries are the source for the domestic beer that is often an integral part of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

– Lime-green chrysanthemums are often requested for St. Patrick’s Day parades and celebrations. Sales of wholesale potted florist chrysanthemum sales reached $69 million.

– A total of 4.8 million immigrants from Ireland have been admitted to the U.S. for lawful permanent residence since fiscal year 1820, the earliest year for which official immigration records exist. By fiscal year 1870, about half of these immigrants were admitted for lawful permanent residence. Only Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Mexico have had more immigrants admitted for permanent residence to the United States than Ireland.

Remember to enjoy the holiday safely – What Will you be drinking on St. Patrick’s Day?

Source: The History of St. Patrick’s Day [The History Channel] [tags]Saint Patrick’s Day, beer, Saint Patrick[/tags]

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