Special Report

St. Patrick Wasn't Irish and Other Lesser-Known Facts About St. Patrick’s Day

Every year on March 17, everyone is, at least a little bit, Irish. St. Patrick’s Day is unimaginable without everything green, corned beef and cabbage, and a parade. But, it turns out, none of these originated in Ireland. Even more shockingly, the man who history knows as St. Patrick is not actually a saint nor is he even from Ireland.

From these to more surprising things about the most popular Irish holiday, 24/7 Tempo takes a look at common misconceptions about the patron saint of Ireland and his designated feast day.

Little is know St. Patrick, who lived in the fifth century. The information about him comes from just two sources: “Confessio,” his spiritual autobiography, and a letter he wrote condemning the British mistreatment of Irish Christians. Despite the few details, St. Patrick is largely credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland.

What there might be more information on is the first St. Patrick’s Day parade. It was held in America, even before it was a country.

Today, the parade in New York City is considered the world‘s oldest civilian parade and the largest in the United States. It was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year will mark the 260th St Patrick’s Day parade in New York City, but the event will be take place virtually.

More than 150,000 people march every year. The day is mostly a secular holiday in the United States. In Ireland, it’s recognized as a public holiday, of course. It’s also a public holiday in Newfoundland and Labrador, a province of Canada, and Montserrat in the Caribbean.

Almost 35 million Americans have Irish heritage, more than seven times the entire population of Ireland itself. But on St. Patrick’s Day, many others are Irish — about 127 million Americans mark the holiday. Many will be having an Irish breakfast or other meal traditionally associated with Ireland — here are 20 Irish foods explained just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

Click here for 20 lesser-known facts about St. Patrick’s Day.