Here in Chicago, St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal. Not only are there hoards of people dressed in green wandering the streets with leprechaun hats on, but we also dye the Chicago River green! In honor of the upcoming holiday, I did some digging and found out some fun facts about St. Patty’s Day.
- The Chicago River is dyed green with vegetable dye that looks orange at first and then turns a bright, shamrock green in honor of “the Emerald Isle.” This year was the 49th year that the river was bright green for St. Patty’s Day!
- St. Patrick was born Maewyn Succat to Roman parents in England around 387 AD.
- He had a difficult path to sainthood. At the age of 16, he was kidnapped and sold into slavery to the Druids in Ireland. He lived there for 6 years and then escaped back to England, where he pursued Catholic priesthood.
- Once he achieved priesthood, he returned to Ireland with the ambitious goal of converting the entire country. His former slavemaster killed himself when he heard the news of his return.
- St. Patrick was a very successful converter. He established churches throughout the country and gained many loyal followers, one of whom sacrificed himself to save St. Patrick during an assassination attempt.
- He was the first person in the history of the world to publicly denounce slavery. As a former slave himself, he knew and understood the injustice of slavery.
- St. Patrick died in the first church he established in Ireland around March 17th of either 463 or 491 (or another year). March 17th then became the feast day, which is a custom for saints even though he was never officially canonized by the Vatican.
- Irish men and women traditionally wear a small bunch of shamrocks in their jackets or caps. Children wear orange, white, and green while women and girls wear green ribbons in their hair.
For more interesting facts, check out Mental Floss.