Facts about St. Patrick's Day you probably didn't know - KCTV5 News

Facts about St. Patrick's Day you probably didn't know

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(Meredith) (Meredith)

(Meredith/CNN) -- Most of us celebrate St. Patrick's Day, even if we aren't Irish. But who exactly was this famous Saint and why do we celebrate his life? Here are a few facts you might not know about one of March's most popular holidays.

Facts you probably already know

  • Legend has it St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity, by showing an unbeliever the three-leafed plant with one stalk.
  • Shamrocks are the national flower/emblem of Ireland.
  • St. Patrick's Day is the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.
  • Corned beef and cabbage is a staple at St. Patrick's Day celebrations.

Who was Saint Patrick?

  • St. Patrick was a Christian missionary and the Apostle of Ireland. 
  • He was born in 385 AD in Britain, which means he isn't Irish.
  • Patron saints are chosen to protect the interests of a country, place, group, trade or profession, or activity, and to intercede for them in heaven. St. Patrick is responsible for converting the people of Ireland to Christianity.
  • At sixteen, he was brought to Ireland as a slave.
  • He escaped six years later and became a priest.
  • Following a vision, he returned to Ireland to Christianize the Irish people.
  • He is credited with having driven the snakes out of Ireland. However, most biologists maintain there never were snakes in Ireland.
  • He died in 461 AD on March 17.

How does Ireland celebrate?

  • In Ireland, St. Patrick's Day is a national holiday with banks, stores, and businesses closing for the day.
  • It has primarily been celebrated as a religious holiday.

How does the U.S celebrate?

  • The first St. Patrick's Day celebration in the United States was held in Boston in 1737.
  • According to the US Census, 32.7 million US residents claimed Irish ancestry in 2015. This is more than seven times the population of Ireland (4.6 million).
  • In the United States, St. Patrick's Day is primarily a secular holiday.

New York City

  • New York City held its first city-wide celebration on March 17, 1762.
  • In 2002, 300,000 marchers and three million spectators participated in the St. Patrick's Day Parade, make this parade, honoring the heroes and victims of 9/11, the largest parade to date.
  • In 2011, the 250th New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade is held.
  • In 2014, the organizers of the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade announce the first ever LGBT group to march in 2015 under their banner. It represents an end to a ban on openly gay groups in the parade.
  • Each year, the St. Patrick's Day Parade is held on March 17, unless March 17 falls on a Sunday. When this happens, the parade is held on Saturday the 16th.
  • The parade marches up 5th Avenue, from 44th to 79th streets. It is often called the world's largest St. Patrick's Day parade.


  • Chicago held its first St. Patrick's Day parade on March 12, 1955.
  • If the 17th falls on a weekday, the parade is held the Saturday before.
  • The Chicago River is dyed green, with a secret recipe, and the parade begins at noon at the corner of Balbo and Columbus Drive.
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