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Mon, Feb. 24

Volpe: Fun facts about St. Patrick, Irish or Italian?

Since tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, many people throughout the country and the world over have been preparing for the event for quite some time. So I thought I might share some fun facts about St. Patrick with you that many people may be unaware of.

So many legends surround St. Patrick’s life that the truth is not easily found. Much of the history of St. Patrick is subject to controversy. It is known that the patron saint of Ireland was born to Roman parents Calpurnius and Conchessa, living in Roman Britain. His given name was Maewyn Succat, who historian agree, is an Italian. Most church historians agree he was born in Whales or Scotland sometime between 360 and 387 AD.

When he was 16 years old he was abducted by Irish pirates, taken to Ireland and sold into slavery to tend and herd sheep. After six years he escaped to France where he turned to God and took the name Patrick when he was ordained a priest. Later he returned to Ireland, which at the time was a land of pagans. Patrick spent 30 years spreading the word of Christianity, while building and establishing monasteries and places of worship throughout Ireland. St. Patrick made his mark introducing Christianity to Ireland in 432 AD.

Death records according to, and recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters say many historians believe St. Patrick died in 493 AD, when he is said to have been 122 years old. Although according to the Annals of Ulster, many historians now believe he died in 461 AD.

Legend tells us that when St. Patrick rang his bell, snakes fled to the sea. It’s a great story; however, scientists believe that snakes never existed in Ireland. Tradition states St. Patrick used the shamrock to illustrate the Holy Trinity and the crucifix to convert Irish pagans. A measure of whiskey was taken on St. Patrick’s Day with a shamrock floating on the whiskey before drinking.

Originally, St. Patrick’s Day was a religiously dry holiday in Ireland; the pubs were all closed on March 17. But since St. Patrick is a huge source of pride in Ireland and people of Irish descent across the world, festivities and parades began to abound at all corners of the earth.

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was conducted in Boston in 1737. The first official parade was conducted in New York City in 1766. The first parade in Ireland was in 1903. The first parade in Dublin was held in 1931, which today, is the largest most theatrical St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world.

In 1970, March 17 was converted to a national holiday and parades “SNAKE” (pun intended) their way through towns and cities around the world. Revelers began wearing green hats and clothes from head to toe. Even buildings, bridges and rivers go green on St. Patrick’s Day.

The wearing of the green originally meant to wear a shamrock to display your faith. In the 1700s people mistook the phrase to mean wearing green garments, so wearing green became ubiquitous with St. Patrick’s Day. Green became not only so attached to this holiday, but to Ireland as well, that many people believe it is the official color of Ireland. While there is no official color, two hues of blue, St. Patrick’s Blue and Presidential Blue are widely used by the Government of Ireland. So while wearing green, your heart should be “true blue” all the way down to your Irish roots.

Here in America we call it St. Patty’s Day. In Ireland they call it St. Paddy’s Day. Whatever you decide to call it; no matter your faith or nationality you will be sure to have a fun time celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

Research took me through more pages than I care to count; there are 26,300,000 results. So this story is a compilation of many links. Hope you enjoy reading along with your green beer. It seems it would be absolutely as acceptable to eat spaghetti and meatballs as it would corned beef and cabbage. In any case, please tip a drink of Sambuca to St. Patrick for me.

Ciao for now, J.J.

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