Being neither Catholic nor Irish, I had no idea why I put a green sweater on this morning. And you know me, I love trivia, so here are 17 facts I found about St. Patrick’s Day (courtesy of Wikipedia):
1. St. Patrick was one of the patron saints of Ireland. He died on March 17, 461.
2. If St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday of Lent (unless it’s Good Friday), the obligation to abstain from eating meat can be lifted by the local bishop.
3. St. Patrick's Blue, not green, was the color long-associated with St. Patrick.
4. Due to the rich history of Scranton participation in St. Patrick's Day festivities it is one of the oldest and most populated parades in the United States. (wonder if Jim and Pam will attend?)
5. The world’s shortest parade is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Hot Springs, Arkansas, taking place on what Ripley’s Believe it or Not has designated the “Shortest Street in the World.”
6. It was only in the mid-1990s that the Irish government began a campaign to use Saint Patrick's Day to showcase Ireland and its culture. (what took you guys so long?)
7. St. Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Christian Irish.
8. Some Protestants have begun wearing orange on St. Patrick's Day as a mark of defiance. (come on, guys. Seriously?)
9. This is why orange now appears in the Irish flag - to symbolize the Protestant minority in Ireland.
10. In the past, Saint Patrick's Day was celebrated as a religious holiday, and in 1903, the irish MP required that all pubs be closed, a provision which was repealed only in the 1970s.
11. In New Orleans, the parades include the influence of Mardi Gras, with float riders throwing spectators strings of beads, cabbages, and potatoes. (Drunks wielding potatoes? Count me in!)
12. Irish Society of Boston organized what was the United States’ first Saint Patrick's Day Parade in the colonies on 17 March 1737.
13. In 1780, General George Washington (yes, that George Washington), who commanded soldiers of Irish descent in the Continental Army, allowed his troops a holiday on March 17 “as an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence."
14. The Washington Nationals have fan green hat day on September 17 to represent 6 months to St. Patrick's Day.
15. Savannah, GA, boasts the unofficial largest attendance with 750,000 in 2006.
16. The tiny island of Montserrat, known as "Emerald Island of the Caribbean" due to its foundation by Irish refugees from Saint Kitts and Nevis, is the only place in the world apart from Ireland and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador in which St Patrick's Day is a public holiday.
17. Some groups, notably Guinness, have lobbied to make Saint Patrick's Day a federal (national) holiday. (raise your hand if you’re surprised.)
Erin Go Braugh!