Special Report

St. Patrick Was British and Other Lesser-Known Facts About St. Patrick’s Day

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He used the shamrock as a metaphor

St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity and what it means to the pagan Irish. The three leaves symbolized the three people and the one stalk symbolized God. The shamrock is now the national flower of Ireland. In the 19th century, the flower became the symbol of the rebellion against the British rule.

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The holiday has a political connotation

St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S. started as a celebration by Irish immigrants of their origins. But as their numbers grew — especially after the Potato Famine in 1845 when more than a million Irish people fled to America to escape starvation — so did their political power. Irish people started to organize and became known as “the green machine.” They turned the annual parade, which was getting bigger and bigger, into a political opportunity. Candidates running for office became frequent attendees at the parades.

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Finding a four-leaf clover may be harder than you think

Finding a four-leaf clover is a sign of good luck, which is not as weird as some other superstitions, as only one in 10,000 people are likely to get that fortunate. And if you’re looking out for one, instead of examining all clovers individually, look at them collectively. If there is a four-leaf one, it’ll jump out.

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The day is a national holiday in Montserrat in the Caribbean

St. Patrick’s Day has become a world holiday. Irish or not, people from all over the world flock to pubs to at least try a pint of Guinness. It may not come as a surprise that March 17 is a national holiday in Ireland, but did you know that it’s also a holiday in Montserrat, a British Caribbean dependency? In fact, people will have the Monday after the holiday off. Irish people lived there before enslaved Africans were brought to the Island the 17th century.

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St. Patrick is also the patron saint of Nigeria

Irish people have a long history in Nigeria. It goes back more than a century, when Roger Casement, an Irish nationalist who sympathized with locals living under colonial rule, served as a British consular officer in southeastern Nigeria. When Ireland opened its embassy in Lagos in 1961, Irish bishops in Nigeria named St. Patrick as the country’s patron.