St. Patrick's Day commemorates the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, as observed by the Roman Catholic Church. St. Patrick passed away on March 17, 461 in Ireland. You may not have realized it, but he wasn't even Irish. Here are some interesting facts about St. Patrick, as well as some history about his feast day.
Saint Patrick wasn't Irish
Patrick's given name was Maewyn when he was born. He was born in the Roman Empire in Britain. At the tender age of 16, he was abducted and sold into slavery in Africa, before being transported to Ireland.
Saint Patrick was a Slave
His flight resulted in his conversion to Christianity in a monastery in Gaul (France). In 432, he returned to Ireland to serve as a missionary. While Christianity had already gained a foothold in the nation, legend has it that Patrick faced the Druids in Tara and forced them to abandon their pagan practices, so spreading Christianity even farther.
Saint Patrick is the patron Saint of Ireland
Saint Patrick rose to the position of bishop and, upon his death, was designated as Ireland's patron saint. The festivities in Ireland, on the other hand, were subdued. In fact Saint Patrick's Day was a dry holiday.
Saint Patrick's Day Parades started in America
When the Irish immigrated to the United States, they established the larger festivities and parades that are still celebrated today. The earliest St. Patrick's Day parades were staged in the eighteenth century by Irish troops who had served in the Revolutionary War. After emigrating to the United States, the festivities became a means for the Irish to reconnect with their heritage. Interesting tidbits:
The Shamrock is a Symbol of St. Patrick
Coloring the River Green
The practice of dyeing the river green began in 1962 when municipal authorities in Chicago chose to color a part of the Chicago River green.
The Origins of Corn Beef and Cabbage on St. Patrick's Day
Corn beef and cabbage is an Irish-American meal that remains popular today. Certain meals were out of reach for Irish Americans or Irish Immigrants since they were so impoverished. Their only option for St. Patrick's Day dinner was beef and cabbage, which they couldn't afford. It quickly become a tradition during the occasion. The meal originated on American soil in the late 19th century as Irish immigrants substituted corned beef for bacon, which was meat of choice in the homeland.