Interpretation of Some of St. Patrick’s Traditions

For many people, especially schoolchildren and youths, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most favorite holidays of the year. However, not many of you know the roots of certain traditions and their meaning. So, if you want to learn something new about your favorite holiday, check out the following facts about St. Patrick’s Day.

Who was St. Patrick?

Ready to be surprised? As a matter of fact, he wasn’t an Irishman. According to Philip Freeman, who is the author of the book St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography, St. Patrick was born in Britain in approximately 400 A.D. When he turned 16 years old, some Irish pirates kidnapped him, and thus he ended up in Ireland. Despite the fact that Patrick was born into a family with high religious values, he considered himself an atheist. What made him reconsider his religious beliefs was the enslavement in Ireland. He spent 17 years of his life in slavery, but finally he managed to escape and come back home. However, he made his way back to Ireland as a missionary. There is no historical indication whether St. Patrick really died in Ireland on March 17, but this day is believed to be the date when he passed away.

Dyeing of Chicago River

Dyeing of Chicago River is a famous St. Patrick’s Day tradition. The families of Butlers and Rowans are responsible for setting up this tradition. For more than 50 years, they have been dyeing the waters of the river into bright green color. This tradition is a family affair, so you cannot participate in dyeing the river if you do not belong to either of the aforementioned families (by marriage or blood).

St. Patricks Day


Originally, St. Patrick’s Day started as merely a religious celebration but later turned into a more public one. In 1762, in New York City the first parade dedicated to St. Patrick’s Day took place. By the mid-19th century, parades became more popular.

The tradition of wearing shamrocks

According to some legends, St. Patrick used the three-leaved shamrock when explaining the Holy Trinity. However, many historians claim that there is no actual evidence of that. Up to now, the shamrock is one of the attributes of the holiday.


Little rosy-cheeked little man wearing green clothes and that are usually boozy are a product of Irish folklore. According to the records in The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures, the first mention of the leprechaun dates back to the 8th century. The word denotes water spirits.

Cabbage and corned beef

The traditional meal on St. Patrick’s Day, cabbage and corned beef, has more American than Irish roots. Irish Americans of the 19th century were not that much affluent, and thus the meal they could afford was corned beef. Cabbage was also very cheap, especially in spring.

So, how many of St. Patrick’s Day facts did you actually know? I bet that many of the explanations were new for you. Now that you know all this, you can make up a questionnaire for you to have some fun with your friends on St. Patrick’s Day.

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