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Five things to know about St. Patrick's Day

Celebrate the day in honour of Irish friends everywhere.
It's very rare--and good luck too--to find a four-leafed clover a.k.a. shamrock. Photo: Metro Creative Connection

St. Patrick's Day in North America may be best known for green beer (and green rivers a la Chicago) and a whole lot of revelry, but in the Emerald Isle it's a national holiday with yes, revelry, but definitely no green beer. And while the pandemic has put the brakes on indoor gatherings, folk will still party. Why not don your greenest garb and make a pot of Irish stew and soda bread and enjoy the day as an honorary Irishman (or Irishwoman). Here's a few fun facts (via about the jovial holiday to entertain your friends or yourself.

1) St. Patrick is really from Britain - St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Britain in the 4th century. As the tale goes, he was kidnapped at age 16 by Irish raiders and sold to a Celtic priest in Northern Ireland. While toiling as a shepherd, he escaped back to England, but eventually returned to Ireland as a Christian missionary.

2) St. Patrick's Day used to be blue--not green - It's said the shift to wearing green for St. Paddy's Day happened because of Ireland's nickname 'The Emerald Isle', the green in the Irish flag and the shamrock. Legend has it that wearing green makes a person invisible to leprechauns that will pinch someone if they see them. In Ireland, some still adhere to the tradition of Catholics wearing green, and Protestants wearing orange--the colours that represent their religious sects on the flag.

3) So. Much. Beer. - The Irish beer Guinness is a top choice for imbibing on March 17, and folk the world over drink a ton of it. As mentioned, skip the green-coloured stuff. Stick to beer as nature intended, or maybe go for an Irish coffee instead?

4) Shamrock isn't a sham - According to folklore, St. Patrick used the shamrock, the familiar three-leafed clover and symbol of spring, to explain the Christian Holy Trinity. The word "shamrock" comes from the Irish word "seamróg," meaning "little clover." It is the symbol of Ireland, and wearing and displaying shamrocks has become a widespread practice on St. Patrick's Day.

5) Corned beef and cabbage - The meal that became a St. Patrick’s Day staple across the country was an American innovation. While ham and cabbage were eaten in Ireland, corned beef offered a cheaper substitute for impoverished immigrants. Irish-Americans living in New York in the late 19th century bought leftover corned beef from ships returning from the tea trade in China and would boil the beef to remove some of the brine.