St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, believe it or not! Though most people do choose to put on their favorite green shirt, jam out to some Irish tunes and drink Green beer on St. Patrick’s Day, few actually know who St. Patty is, or how the holiday and all of its unique traditions started. Leave it to us to make sure that you know all there is to know about St. Patty before you hit your favorite Irish Pub this March 17.
In a nutshell, St. Patrick’s Day began as a religious holiday commemorating the death of the foremost patron saint, St. Patrick. The holiday itself all started in 1631, when the church created a “feast day” honoring the saint. Though there’s several centuries’ worth of history celebrating St. Patty, we know surprisingly little about him. His name may have actually been Maewyn Succat, and he was a Roman citizen before he was enslaved and taken to Ireland.
There, he either escaped from prison (or was possibly released), and turned priest. The remainder of his life he dedicated to Christianity – specifically, converting Druids to Christians. What does all of this have to do with modern-day St. Patrick’s Day? Very little. The way we celebrate Irish luck has to do with St. Patrick’s “luck” in escaping slavery.
So… When Did All the Partying Start?
It wasn’t until the end of the 18th century that St. Patrick’s Day turned into one big party. The holiday falls during Lent, so most Christians used the holiday to opt out of their Lent based abstinence for a day. Needless to say – one day of freedom in the midst of several days abstaining? It got crazy, fast. In 1798, the color green was established as the official St. Patty’s Day color. Up until that point, blue was actually the official color, as blue was the main feature in the royal court and on the Irish Flag. The Irish Rebellion in 1798 was what prompted the change; the British wore red, so the Irish opted for green (the opposite).
Do You Have to Be Irish to Celebrate?
So, St. Patty’s Day is a ton of fun… do you have to be Irish to actually celebrate? Absolutely not. In fact, the holiday has been significantly Americanized over the last century or two, and has turned into one astronomical capitalistic opportunity for American businesses. Consider that just 33.1 million American people claim Irish heritage, but more than 127 million American’s actually celebrate the holiday. On average, American’s spend around $36 on the holiday – whether it be on a green scarf, or a few green beers at the pub – this makes a total of $4.6 billion in revenue for American business.
Suffice it to say – St. Patrick’s day is one of the most celebrated holidays in America. This March, impress your friends while you chug that green beer by throwing out some impressive history facts on why you’re actually drinking green beer.