I’ve always said that having a bit of trivia locked away in your brain could make or break a party. With Saint Patrick’s Day coming up, it only makes sense to read up on obscure Irish history in case you end up in a pub on trivia night and the theme is “Holidays That Revolve Around Drinking and Wearing Green.”
Now, we’ve got a lot of work to do. Because honestly, who knows the history of St. Patrick’s Day like the back of their hand? And yes, we plan to win any and all trivia games we come across whilst surrounded by mugs of green beer. That brings us here, with several St. Patrick’s Day trivia points we will have memorized by March 17th.
1. Saint Patrick was not even born in Ireland.
In fact, he was born somewhere in Great Britain. Rumor has it that when he was 16 years old, he was kidnapped by pirates and held in captivity in Ireland for six years. During this time, Saint Patrick found religion, which gave him the hope to survive and eventually escape. He later proved that he was infinitely braver than I could ever be, by returning to Ireland a few years later as a Christian missionary.
If I were held captive in a foreign country for a little more than half a decade, I would move to the farthest geographical point possible, or Mars.
2. The first Saint Patrick’s Day parade was not in Ireland, but in Boston.
If there’s one thing you should know about Boston, it’s that everyone who lives there will claim they are part Irish at some point or another, even if they’re not. No one knows why Bostonians and the Irish have such a strong emotional bond. Maybe it’s the shared love for excessive drinking. Maybe it’s the mass of people who immigrated there after the Great Potato Famine. Maybe it’s Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Who knows?
Either way, it’s important to note that Bostonians hosted the first St. Paddy’s Day Parade, long before the Irish realized that that was their job.
3. Chicago dyes their main river green to celebrate the holiday.
Using a mixture of vegetable dye and other compounds, the city of Chicago dyes their main river green, every year, to commemorate the Irish holiday. If this were School Spirit Day in elementary school, Chicago would definitely win the free pizza party.
4. Saint Patrick’s real name is Maewyn Succat.
Try saying that five times fast. After becoming a priest, Maewyn adopted the name “Patrick,” which means “well-born” in Latin. If you really want to test the breadth of your friends’ knowledge, wish them a “Happy Maewyn Succat Day” and wait for their response. If they give you a high-five, you know you’re both equally as weird and destined to be lifelong friends. If they throw you a weird look, you might need to find a new trivia partner for that pub quiz.
5. Leprechauns are actually fairies/shoemakers in Irish folklore.
If you thought superheroes had a lot of code-switching to do between their civilian and vigilante lives, imagine how leprechauns feel telling their friends that they are both fairies and shoemakers. Sure, having magical powers is cool and all, but apparently they don’t get you out of manual labor. Although that’s definitely better than leprechauns being part-time serial killers, which is what I picture after having seen this emotionally scarring film series:
6. The shamrock’s three leaves are meant to represent the Holy Trinity.
You may find the luck of the Irish in a four-leaf clover, but the national symbol for Saint Patrick’s Day is actually a three-leaf shamrock. Though it may seem weird to have a plant represent a holiday, it makes more sense when you know that, according to legend, Saint Patrick used shamrocks to teach children about the Holy Trinity.
7. The Guinness Book of World Records originated with the Irish native Hugh Beaver, who was the managing director of the Guinness Brewery.
Some of the best ideas come from petty arguments with friends. Hugh Beaver learned this fact all too well when, one day, over a couple of beers, he and his buddies began arguing over which bird was the fastest bird in Ireland. When Beaver realized that there weren’t any reference books that could answer that particular question, he had the idea to make a “book of records” that could officially settle any friendly pub arguments. And thus, the Guinness Book of World Records was born.
8. Divorce was not permitted in Ireland until 1997.
Not directly related to St. Patrick’s Day, but still mind-boggling enough to be included on this list. In a country where the odds of drunkenly eloping are incredibly likely, I can only imagine the miserable or awkward marriages that people had to live with before 1997.
9. There are more Americans of Irish origin than there are Irish in Ireland.
Well, sort of. In 2008, around 36 million Americans claimed Irish ancestry, while at the time the population of Ireland was only 4 million. However, not everyone who claims Irish ancestry is fully Irish. As I mentioned before, most Bostonians will show off their boxing leprechaun tattoos without admitting that they are, in fact, only 2% Irish, so this statistic is a bit skewed.
10. There are 10,000 three-leaf clovers for every four-leaf clover.
The odds of finding a four-leaf clover are not exaggerated. Next time you find one (if you find one), spray it with hair-spray, stick it in a laminated folder, and frame it on your wall with the caption “I win at life” beneath it, because you may never find another one…ever again.