Special Report

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

Source: Mike Young / Wikimedia Commons

The largest parade in the southern hemisphere is in Sydney

St. Patrick’s Day parade in Sydney, Australia, is among the largest such events in the world — certainly the largest in the southern hemisphere. More than 80,000 people gather to mark the occasion. The Australian parade is the only one outside Ireland that is sponsored, at least in part, by the Irish government.

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Some parades are under 100 yards

The shortest St. Patrick’s day parade takes place in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas. It’s just 98 feet long, which means the parade is over in just about 10 minutes, even if you walk slowly. There is also a footrace, which might be the shortest in the world as well — just 299 feet. And another record: The race ends at O’Kelley’s Pub, the biggest inflatable Irish pub in the world (but it’s not among the oldest bars in the country).

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People spend more than $250 million on beer on the day

Americans spend about $250 million on beer on St. Patrick’s Day. A fifth of adults have a pint on March 17 every year. Worldwide, about 5.5 million pints of Guinness, one of the most popular beers in America, are consumed a day; on St. Patrick’s Day, however, that number more than doubles to 13 million.

Source: National Library of Ireland / Flickr

St. Patrick is officially a saint

St. Patrick was never actually canonized, which means that, technically, he is not a saint. He died long before a formal process of canonization was even created, which happened in the 12th century.

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The first parade in Belfast was held in 1998

The first ever St. Patrick’s Day parade in Ireland took place in 1931, but the event didn’t make its way to neighboring Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, until fairly recently — 1998. And it happened in Belfast, a pro-British Protestant city. About 10,000 people marched. And while we are on the subject or marches, next read about women’s marches that have shaped America.