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St. Patrick's Day: Facts and Legends

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To mark St Patrick's Day, Faith Central has compiled 10 celebratory tidbits, some myth, some fact, on the Patron Saint of the Irish.

1. The potato crop was traditionally planted in Ireland after March 17

2. Blue not green is the color originally associated with St Patrick. “St Patrick’s Blue” is used on Ireland's Presidential Standard or flag, while the Irish Guards sport a plume of St Patrick’s blue in their bearskins. The emphasis on green is thought to be linked to “wearing the Green”, a symbol from the 18th century on, of sympathy with Irish independence.

3. St Patrick is patron of fishermen in the Loire, where a legend associates him with a blackthorn bush. The saint is said to have slept beneath it, and when he awoke the next day, Christmas, the bush flowered, and was said to have continued to do so every Christmas until its destruction during the First World War.

4. A regiment of the Mexican army in the 1846 -8 War between Mexico and America was named after St Patrick. Members of the Batellón de San Patricio included Afro-Americans freshly liberated from the slave plantations of the South, and the soldiers were granted Mexican citizenship afterwards.

5. The first St Patrick’s Day parade took place in 1737 in Boston, followed in 1762 by New York. George Washington allowed his soldiers a holiday on March 17, 1780 as “an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence.”

6. Until the 1970’s, all pubs were shut in Ireland on St Patrick’s Day, and the sole venue selling drink the annual dog show. Lenten fasting – and the obligation to abstain from meat – were lifted on the day, which most families would begin with Mass.

7. St Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in Ireland and also in Monserrat "the Emerald Isle of the Carribean,” so called because it was settled in 1633 by Irish migrants from St Kitts.

8. According to legend, on the day of Judgement, while Christ judges all other nations, St Patrick will be the judge of the Irish.

9. Since 1962, tons of green dye are tipped on St Patrick’s Day into the Chicago river, although the quantity has reduced, for environmental reasons, from 100 to 40.

10. Should you wish to carry on celebrating St Patrick after March 17, in the United States, you might visit the four Shamrocks in the USA including Mount Gay-Shamrock, W.Va or the nine cities named Dublin, including Dublin, Ohio (the largest Dublin in the U.S.) and Dublin, Georgia.