Things you didn’t know about St. Patrick’s Day

Joyce Pemberton Columnist

So it’s a few days before St. Patrick’s Day, and I find myself sitting quietly in the wee hours of the morning trying to come up with something clever and fun to share with you that has not already been said to death about my favorite day of the year. And I’ve got to be about it quickly while you can still read it sober, so here goes.

First things first, regardless of your nationality or heritage, a very Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you – or as it’s said in Irish Gaelic, Lá Fhéile Pádraig.

As an authentic Irish gal, one thing I know for sure is that if someone is wearing a “Kiss me I’m Irish” shirt, I promise you, they are not truly Irish. Real Irish people are most likely wearing a shirt that says “Try and kiss me and I’ll punch you.”

Let’s get the mundane (but necessary) facts about St. Patrick’s Day out of the way first, and then we’ll get to the fun, totally useless blarney.

•St. Patrick really did exist. He was not Irish, however, but British. He was born in AD 387.

•When he was 16 years old, our boy Patrick was kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a slave. He must have liked it because when he was freed years later, he returned to Ireland to spread Christianity. And so St. Patrick’s Day is now celebrated as a religious holiday in Ireland.

•As a result of his saving the Irish from themselves, Patrick became St. Patrick, a celebrated patron Saint of Ireland.

•In the United States,more than 450 churches are named after St. Patrick.

•The shortest Saint Patrick’s day parade in the world is held in Dripsey, Co. Cork, Ireland. The parade is just 100 yards and travels between the village’s two pubs. Go figure.

•The Shamrock is what St. Patrick used to illustrate the Holy Trinity to the Irish.

•Croag Patrick, a 2,507-foot mountain in Ireland, is where St. Patrick fasted for 40 days in the 5th century. As a result, each year thousands of Irish climb this mountain as a pilgrimage, some barefoot. I actually took this climb by myself in 2014. Steep and full of loose shale, I have an entirely new respect for St. Patrick. And hiking boots.

Now for the fun stuff. Here are some interesting and little unknown facts you can use to impress your friends:

•On St. Patrick’s Day, Chicago uses 45 pounds of dye to turn the Chicago River totally emerald green. Really! I’ve seen it with me own eyes.

•13 million pints of Guinness will be consumed on St. Patrick’s Day.

•In the US of A, 83 percent of people wear green, more than 52 percent will attend a party or celebration, and 25 percent will decorate their home on St. Patrick’s Day. Which just goes to show, everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!

•Between 1820-1930, more than 4.5 million people emigrated from Ireland to the United States, and today, more than 34 million U.S. residents claim Irish ancestry. This is more than seven times the current population of Ireland. Which means, if we all emigrated back today, we would most likely sink the island.

•Before the invention of the thermometer, beer brewers in Ireland used to check the temperature by dipping their thumb, to find whether it was an appropriate time for adding yeast. This is where we get the phrase, “the rule of thumb.” (Not really related to St. Patrick’s Day, but fascinating, don’t you think?)

•Contrary to popular belief, kissing the Blarney Stone does not give you the gift of gab. Kissing the blarney stone only gets you made fun of by Irish locals and gives you germs left by the 2 million people who kissed it before you.

As the one national holiday that is celebrated in more countries around the world than any other, St. Patrick’s Day is the day when everyone wants to be Irish or claims to have the green blood of Eire (Ireland) running through their veins.

That’s OK, we won’t hold it against you. Have fun. Just don’t embarrass us whilst claiming to be us.

Slainte and Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!