18 Fun Facts about St Patrick’s Day for Kids
When it comes to worldwide celebrations, few festivities reach as far and wide as St. Patrick’s Day. Famous for colorful parades, shamrocks, Guinness, and leprechauns; St Patrick’s Day marks a historical date in Irish history yet retains a certain status as a new world phenomenon. That is to say, there is truth in the historical importance of this popular holiday, but there are also many surprising facts which illustrate the intriguing nature of what is now a global event.
With the above in mind, here are some of the most bizarre, unusual, interesting and fun facts about St. Patrick's Day:
18 Fun Facts about St. Patrick's Day
- The Shamrock
St. Patrick’s Day is commemorated with a shamrock which is a three-leaf clover that St. Patrick once used to explain the Holy Trinity. With each leaf representing faith, hope and love; the Celtic people would subsequently believe the shamrock to be profoundly symbolic of their heritage.
- Saint Patrick
Although this joyous day is often celebrated with festivities and parties around the world, the holiday marks the death of St Patrick. At the same time, the people of Ireland initially used this day as a means of celebrating the arrival of Christianity.
- Feast Day
St Patrick’s Day was initially known as “Feast Day “and was first established during the 17th Century. However, mass migration during the Great Potato Famine saw thousands of Irish people on the shores of America where the importance of “Feast Day” was emphasized by the immigrants. In time, this celebration extended to various cultures and peoples, regardless of their heritage.
- Worldwide Celebrations
Another fun fact about St Patrick’s Day is that although this celebration is focused around a giant parade in every major city in Ireland, this also extends far and wide around the world. After all, more than two hundred thousand people had marched in New York since the very first parade back in 1762.
- St. Patrick’s Day in America
In fact, St Patrick’s Day is a hugely popular celebration in the United States, especially in places such as New York, Boston and Chicago where they dye the rivers green and serve beer with a strangely green color.
- Ancient Celebrations
St. Patrick’s Day is more than 1500 years old and is now the most global national holiday in the world. From Mexico and the United States to Argentina and Australia; you can find festivities in every corner of the world on this colorful occasion.
Leprechauns are commonly associated with St Patrick’s Day, and this small species is a type of fairy which derives from ancient Irish folk stories. Arguably the most common myth about leprechauns is that they steal gold coins at every opportunity and hide them in a large pot at the end of the rainbow.
- EU Law & Protection
At the same time, there is also a legitimate law of protection for the well-being of this mystical figure. After all, the area surrounding Slieve Foy mountain in Co. Louth is a Designated Area of Protection for “Wild animals, flora, fauna, and little people' under EU law.
Guinness is the most famous beer in the world, and people from all over the world will often celebrate the big day with a glass of the Irish beer which is famous for an unusual blend of barley and hops along with a distinctly black color.
- Original Meaning of St Patrick’s Day
St Patrick’s Day usually falls during Lent and was once a rather quiet religious holiday until a law was passed in the 1960’s which enabled pubs to open up on to celebrate the big day.
- Birthplace of St. Patrick
Did you know that St. Patrick was not even born in Ireland? On the contrary, Saint Patrick was born in Wales which was a colony of the powerful Roman Empire at the time of his birth.
- Green is the Blue
While green is certainly the color associated with St Patrick’s Day, this was not always the case. In fact, Saint Patrick was initially associated with the color blue, but due to the shamrock lapel which most of the men were known to wear, the official color was changed to green.
- Gaelic Language
On St Patrick’s Day in Ireland, visitors are likely to encounter a language for which they do not understand. While English is now the first language in Ireland, locals are quick to point out to visiting tourists that Gaelic is very much alive on this tiny landmass next to the Atlantic Ocean. “Go raibh maith agat” translates into English as “Thank you” while “Go raibh mile maith agat” means “Thank you a million times”.
- 35 Million Americans
Incredibly, there are now more than 35 million US residents who claim to have Irish ancestry which indicates the extent of mass immigration which took place from 1847 to the present day.
- Visitors to Ireland
More than 150,000 visitors arrive in Ireland to experience St Patrick’s Day every year, and this extraordinary gathering is said to generate more than $140 million on an annual basis.
- Corned Beef and Cabbage
Although Ireland is not best known for exotic cuisine, corned beef and cabbage is the most popular meal on St Patrick’s Day. That being said, the appeal of this particular deal is somewhat exaggerated with most locals opting for contemporary foods over traditional staples.
- Snakes in Ireland
Another myth in Ireland outlines how Saint Patrick is responsible for the absence of snakes in the Emerald Isle. However, there were never any snakes in Ireland as this reptile never made it as far as Ireland before it separated with mainland Europe during the Ice Age. Instead, this story is thought to be a metaphor which is used to explain how the patron saint managed to rid the country of Paganism and replace it with Christianity.
- Irish Blessings
Ireland is famous for poetry and insightful sayings. With this in mind, the locals are also thought to be charming and amongst the many popular blessings you might hear them say is “Wherever you go and whatever you do, may the luck of the Irish be there with you.”
Download a PDF version of these facts. Great for a fact sheet to use with your learners.
Do you have any fun facts about St Patrick’s Day? Please let me know in the comments below!
Fun Resources for St Patrick's Day
Irene holds a Bachelor of Science (Applied Psychology), and Certificate in TESOL and a Certificate in the Teaching of Children with Dyslexia. Fifteen years experience in developing education programs and resources for Early Childhood and Primary Educators.