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The Emerald Isles is another name for Ireland, and indeed it is a beautiful green land. Today we celebrate its history, traditions and customs by honoring St Patrick, the patron saint who brought Christianity to Ireland in the 400’s AD.
Little is known of Patrick’s life and only two letters remain of his writings. He was born around 387 AD in Scotland. At the age of 16, Patrick was kidnapped by marauders and sold into slavery in Ireland. There he worked as a shepherd for 6 years before escaping, and he learned to speak the Celtic language perfectly. This was of great use to him when he returned to Ireland as a bishop and missionary.
Saint Patrick’s Day is a national holiday in Ireland, and is also a religious holiday worldwide. It is celebrated in many countries around the globe, with parades, festivals and other special events.
Some interesting facts:
Montreal, Canada, has held a St Patrick’s Day parade every single year since 1824,and it is one of the longest-running parades in North America. However, the largest parade is undoubtedly the one held in New York City, when 150,000 marchers participate in the 5-hour procession.
Hockey? The Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team used to be known as the Toronto St Patricks from 1919 to 1927, and their jerseys were green of course. The team wore these retro jerseys again in 1999 for a Hockey Night In Canada game that fell on Mar 17.
Did you ever put green dye in someone’s drink on St Patrick’s Day? The City of Chicago goes one better: it dyes its river green! And has done so every year since 1962. A vegetable dye is used, and the resulting green color of the river lasts only a few hours.
Indianapolis also dyes its canal water green, and Savannah dyes its downtown city fountains green.
There is only one town in the entire world named St Patrick: it’s location? St Patrick, Missouri, USA.
It’s said that everyone is a little bit Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day, and that has to be true. After all, over 34 million Americans are of Irish descent. That is nine times the population of Ireland!
Happy St Patrick’s Day to everyone!
* "Erin go bragh" means "Ireland Forever" in Gaelic.
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