Saint Patrick’s Day Fun Facts

Have you wondered who Saint Patrick was, why we celebrate on March 17th each year, what the shamrock is about, why you get pinched if you don’t wear green, or how many pints of Guinness beer are consumed each St. Patrick’s Day? 

These fun facts will illuminate popular myths and legends and give you the inside scoop on this emerald-green holiday!  

Share these “nuggets of gold” – a.k.a., fun facts at your gathering, teach them to your children or grandchildren, and “Give it a lash!” (The way Irish say, “Give it a go!”)

  1. Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, one of Christianity’s most widely known figures.
  2. Ironically St. Patrick was not Irish. He was born in Britain near the end of the fourth century and raised in a Christian family.

3. His parents didn’t name him Patrick. Some people believe his name was Maewyn.

4. At the age of 16, Patrick was kidnapped by a group of Irish raiders who attacked his family’s estate. They took him to Ireland, where he was kept captive for six years, forced to herd sheep.

5. As a captured young man, he dreamed of converting the Irish to Christianity.

6. Patrick escaped after hearing a voice that he believed was God’s, speaking to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland. He walked almost 200 miles to the Irish coast and then onto Britain.

7. After his return, Patrick said an angel in a dream told him to return to Ireland as a missionary. He began religious training, was ordained as a priest, then sailed back to Ireland to start preaching and building churches and schools. People noticed his kind ways and trusted him.

8. Saint Patrick’s Day – March 17th is the day Saint Patrick died. 

9. St. Patrick’s Day evolved into a party day in the 20th century for Americans of all ethnicities. Still, in Ireland, March 17th remained a solemn, religious day with modest feasts to commemorate St. Patrick, the missionary credited with cultivating Christianity in Ireland.  

10. The celebrations began in America with pints of Guinness, bagpipers, marching bands, and green attire. It wasn’t until the arrival of television, when the Irish could view all the fun across the pond, that modern Ireland began celebrating.  

Pub in Dublin, Ireland

11. In 1996 a multi-day St. Patrick’s Day Festival was launched in Dublin, attracting over one million people annually.

12. According to legend, St. Patrick used the three-leaf shamrock as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity when introducing Christianity to Ireland.

13. According to Wikipedia, Four-leaf clovers have a frequency of approximately 1 in 5000, according to a 2017 survey of roughly 7 million clovers.  

14. While green seems synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day, Saint Patrick’s color was blue. The color green only became associated with St. Patrick’s Day after it was linked to the Irish independence movement in the late 18th century.

15. The New York Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the world’s largest. It has been a significant attraction since 1762!

16. The Chicago River has been dyed green in honor of the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations for nearly 68 years. The specific green color is said to be identical to the greens of Ireland, the Emerald Isle. It takes 40 tons of dye to color the river.

Watch how it turns green in a time-lapse here:

17. The St. Patrick’s Day “go-to” beer is a Guinness. The Irish stout is undeniably a March 17th classic, not only for its iconic taste but for its Irish roots. According to Newsweek, each St. Patrick’s Day it’s estimated a whopping 13 million pints of Guinness will be consumed globally!

18. Myth or Truth: Though St. Patrick gets all the credit for driving the snakes out of Ireland, modern scientists have discovered that Ireland has never had any snakes. The cold weather was too harsh to host any reptiles, and the surrounding seas kept them away. It’s now believed that the snakes in his lore were likely metaphorical. The Irish culture centered around a rich tradition of oral legend and myth, which is probably why the story of Patrick’s life became exaggerated over the centuries.

19. Leprechauns are remembered on St. Patrick’s Day because long ago, some Irish folk believed in these magic creatures. The legend taught that if you caught a leprechaun, you could make him lead you to a pot of gold. Leprechaun comes from the Old Irish word Luchorpan, meaning wee one. They were believed to be the size of your thumb!

20. According to folklore, you get pinched on St. Patrick’s Day for not wearing green because green makes you invisible to leprechauns. Leprechauns like to pinch people (because they can!). –

Whether from an Irish heritage or just Irish in spirit, Happy St. Patty’s Day to you! 

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