St. Patrick's Day

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While a famous legend says that St. Patrick forced snakes from Ireland, this is not a factual account. There are no native snake species in that part of the world, so St. Patrick wouldn't have had much snake banishing to do.

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  • When was the first St. Patrick's Day parade in Ireland?

    Q: When was the first St. Patrick's Day parade in Ireland?

    A: Ireland's first recorded St. Patrick's Day Parade took place on March 17, 1975, when the public celebration of this holiday was effectively imported to Ireland from the United States, where St. Patrick's Day parades had been taking place for centuries. Though Irish people were responsible for throwing the first-ever documented St. Patrick's Day parade, this event took place in America during the mid 1700s. At this point, St. Patrick's Day was seen as more of a minor religious holiday than a major national celebration of heritage and identity in Ireland.
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  • How many pints of Guinness are served on St. Patrick's Day?

    Q: How many pints of Guinness are served on St. Patrick's Day?

    A: Close to 13 million pints are sold worldwide on St. Patrick's Day. While its popularity spikes on the holiday, Guinness is still a very popular global beer brand, with an average of about 5.5 million pints of Guinness being sold on any given day of the year.
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  • How are you supposed to kiss the Blarney Stone?

    Q: How are you supposed to kiss the Blarney Stone?

    A: Kissing the Blarney Stone requires visitors to bend backwards and, holding on to an iron railing for support, kiss the stone while facing upside-down. Doing so is said to grant the kisser the "gift of gab," otherwise known as great skill with words.
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  • Was Saint Patrick actually British?

    Q: Was Saint Patrick actually British?

    A: Although Saint Patrick lived in the British Isles and became known as the Patron Saint of Ireland, it is widely believed that he was of Roman heritage. The exact details of his life, who is believed to have been born under the name of Maewyn Succat, are obscure. There is evidence that he was born to parents who were part of the Roman occupiers in Britain during the late 4th century CE, and that he went on to become a Christian missionary in 5th century C.E.
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  • How do they celebrate St. Patrick's Day in South America?

    Q: How do they celebrate St. Patrick's Day in South America?

    A: Many places in South America celebrate St. Patrick's Day, and these celebrations are typical for the holiday: focusing on parades, splashes of the color green, public festivities and Irish cultural heritage activities such as Celtic dancing. Many South Americans of Irish heritage, particularly those in Argentina, are the descendants of immigrants who emigrated to South America to escape 19th century Irish famines.
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  • How much dye does it take to turn the Chicago River green?

    Q: How much dye does it take to turn the Chicago River green?

    A: While it varies from year to year, it typically takes at least 40 pounds of dye to turn the Chicago River green for St. Patrick's Day. Local plumbers have dyed the river every year since 1961, and in the early days they used nearly 100 pounds of coloring, which left the river green for days after the celebration.
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  • What was the original color of St. Patrick's Day?

    Q: What was the original color of St. Patrick's Day?

    A: Though green is the color that is most famously associated with St. Patrick, this saint's original color was actually blue. Evidence of this can be seen in paintings that show the Catholic saint in blue vestments, or robes, rather than green.
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  • What is the origin of "Kiss Me, I'm Irish"?

    Q: What is the origin of "Kiss Me, I'm Irish"?

    A: The exact origins of the saying "kiss me, I'm Irish" aren't exactly clear, but it is likely related to the practice of kissing the Blarney Stone. The Blarney Stone is an Irish landmark that is said to bring luck to visitors who kiss it.
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  • Was Saint Patrick's name really Patrick?

    Q: Was Saint Patrick's name really Patrick?

    A: The man who eventually came to be known as St. Patrick was born under the name of Maewyn Succat around 390 C.E. His name was likely changed to Patrick when he was around 16 years old, at which point he is said to have been kidnapped from his Roman family by Irish pirates and sold into slavery.
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  • Where did the Blarney Stone come from?

    Q: Where did the Blarney Stone come from?

    A: The exact origins of the Blarney Stone are the subject of legend rather than actual historical fact, and there are several different versions of the stone's origin story. Blarney Castle says that some people believe the stone was brought back to Ireland by a Crusader who had been to the Middle East.
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  • Did Saint Patrick drive snakes out of Ireland?

    Q: Did Saint Patrick drive snakes out of Ireland?

    A: While a famous legend says that St. Patrick forced snakes from Ireland, this is not a factual account. There are no native snake species in that part of the world, so St. Patrick wouldn't have had much snake banishing to do.
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  • Why does Chicago dye its river green?

    Q: Why does Chicago dye its river green?

    A: The City of Chicago dyes its eponymous river green every year to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. This practice dates back to the early 1960s, when the city started using a green dye known as fluorescein to locate leaks in its plumbing system.
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  • What does the leprechaun represent?

    Q: What does the leprechaun represent?

    A: Leprechauns have been depicted in several different ways across different cultures and times, and these mythical creatures have been said to represent everything from good luck to mischievousness. The leprechaun myths hold that these small creatures are fairies that work as cobblers and store their profits in pots of gold at the end of rainbows. Leprechauns are said to be male in appearance, initially wearing red clothing, but as the association between Ireland and the color green grew, so too did the leprechaun's.
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  • What does the shamrock stand for?

    Q: What does the shamrock stand for?

    A: As it relates to St. Patrick's Day in a religious sense, the shamrock carries significance for its three leaves, which represent the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As a holiday celebrating Irish cultural heritage, however, the St. Patrick's Day shamrock is related to the "wearing of the green." This made the shamrock into a symbol of rebellion against governments attempting to control Ireland during the late 18th century, turning the simple green leaf into a symbol of Irish identity and patriotism.
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  • Q: What are some St. Patrick's Day game ideas?

    A: St. Patrick's Day game ideas include shamrock scramble, rainbow relay and leprechaun tag. These Irish-themed games provide active entertainment for children at St. Patrick's Day parties, according to About.com.
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  • Q: Why do people kiss the Blarney Stone?

    A: For centuries, visitors to Ireland's Blarney Castle have been partaking in a tradition of kissing a historic monument known as the Blarney Stone; kissing the stone is said to impart a "gift of gab," or extreme eloquence with a particular talent for flattery, upon the person who kisses the stone. Though it seems unlikely that a piece of stone could have such magical powers, Blarney Castle seems insistent that this gift is a tangible effect of kissing the stone, one that will be apparent immediately after the visitor bestows a kiss on the stone. It has been at Blarney Castle since the 15th century C.E., and the stone's legendary status can be traced back farther than that, with early stories dating back to the 1300s.
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  • Do people in Asia celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

    Q: Do people in Asia celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

    A: People in Asia do celebrate St. Patrick's day, and while the celebration may not be as widespread as it is in the United States and parts of Europe, celebrations are often held in Japan, South Korea, Singapore and other Asian countries. The annual parade held in the Harajuku district of Tokyo, Japan may be one of the largest St. Patrick's Day celebrations on the Asian continent.
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  • Q: What are some Saint Patrick's Day facts?

    A: Saint Patrick's Day is a national holiday in Ireland and is celebrated around the world with parades and celebrations. Saint Patrick is famous for bringing Christianity to Ireland and allegedly driving away snakes. Scholars suspect these are metaphorical snakes, as the climate in Ireland is too cold for snakes.
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  • Q: How many Shamrock Shakes have been sold?

    A: The Shamrock Shake was introduced to McDonald's customers in 1970, and over the course of several decades, the fast food chain has sold more than 60 million of these seasonal green treats. That's an impressive amount of shakes, especially considering that McDonald's only offers the minty beverage for a few weeks out of the year to coincide with St. Patrick's Day.
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  • Q: How much corned beef is eaten on St. Patrick's Day?

    A: While it's difficult to know exactly how much corned beef is eaten on St. Patrick's day, this is considered more of an American tradition. In Ireland, it is not customary to each corned beef on the holiday.
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  • Where was the first St. Patrick's Day parade?

    Q: Where was the first St. Patrick's Day parade?

    A: The first Saint Patrick's Day parade was held in New York City before the American colonies had declared their independence from England and established themselves as the United States. This parade, which was held on March 17, 1762, was organized by Irish members of the British colonial armed forces.
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