It's Your Lucky Day! Learn All About St. Patrick's Day: History, Facts, Trivia and Banning Beer?!

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Learn all about the celebration that takes place each year on March 17.

When St. Patrick's Day arrives each year, one might start thinking about which nearby bars are serving green beer, which parades are happening close by to take the family to, and/or what you have in your closet that will help ensure you don't get pinched by any oh-so-funny friends of yours throughout the day. But many of us are less likely to consider the origin of the holiday and why we celebrate it to begin with. Many of us, in fact, might not have a clue about St. Patrick's Day history, and may feel surprised by some of its backstory (like how for many years, Irish bars were actually banned from being open on this day!). Fortunately, we have all the St. Patrick's Day history, facts and trivia that you need to know!

So, if you're left scratching your head, wondering who was St. Patrick anyway, or if you're feeling curious about when exactly this holiday started being observed, you're not alone. We'll even share how St. Patrick's Day went from being strictly a serious, religious observance, to the infamous drinking event that it is today. We've got all the answers to fill you in!

When is St. Patrick's Day?

This year, St. Patrick's Day falls on Friday, March 17, 2023.

Related: 130 Irish Blessings

St. Patrick's Day History

St. Patrick's Day celebrates the life of Saint Patrick—the patron saint of Ireland. This influential missionary has been credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. St. Patrick's Day takes place on March 17 each year because St. Patrick's death is believed to have been on March 17, 461. The Church began observing a special feast to honor him on this day starting in 1631.

Related: 50 St. Patrick's Day Recipes That Will Bring the Luck of the Irish To Your Dinner Table

15 St. Patrick's Day Facts

1. St. Patrick's Day always falls on the 17th of March.

2. The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place in America—not in Ireland.

3. The New York City St. Patrick's Day parade is the world's oldest civilian parade and the largest in the United States.

4. Chicago began its annual tradition of turning the Chicago River green on St. Patrick's Day in 1962.

5. In Ireland, St. Patrick's Day had been viewed mostly as a religious observance, and up until the 1960s, they even had laws that forbid bars from being open that day.

6. It wasn't until 1798 (the year of the Irish Rebellion) that the color green became officially associated with St. Patrick's Day. Before then, another color was originally associated with St. Patrick (see the trivia below!).

Related: 20 St. Patrick's Day Desserts Starring Gold Coins, Four-Leaf Clovers and Lots o' Green

7. St. Patrick's Day switched over from a strictly holy day for Catholics to an official Irish public holiday in 1903.

8. Although St. Patrick's Day falls within the period of Lent—a time when the Catholic Church prohibits eating meat, the ban is lifted on this specific day of celebration.

9. The annual shamrock ceremony in the White House started in 1952.

10. Each year, 5.5 million people visit New York's St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

11. Before St. Patrick became a missionary, he had been kidnapped at the age of 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave.

Related: Best Quotes for St. Patrick's Day

12. St. Patrick is said to have been buried in the town of Downpatrick, County Down, in Northern Ireland.

13. There are two autobiographical writings from St. Patrick himself, including Confessio and Letter to Coroticus.

14. Traditionally, Catholic families go to church in the morning on St. Patrick's Day, and partake in a meal that includes cabbage and Irish bacon.

15. Dublin's first official celebration of St. Patrick's Day did not occur until 1931.

15 St. Patrick's Day Trivia Questions

1. Question: What's another name for St. Patrick's Day?
Answer: The Feast of Saint Patrick.

2. Question: Where was Saint Patrick actually born?
Answer: Roman Britain (What is now either England, Scotland or Wales).

3. Question: How many hours does the NYC St. Patrick's Day parade take?
Answer: Over five hours.

4. Question: How many pounds of green vegetable dye are now used to turn the Chicago River green?
Answer: 40 pounds.

5. Question: What do some historians believe was St. Patrick's real name?
Answer: Maewyn Succat.

6. Question: According to legend, what happened during one of St. Patrick's sermons on the Irish hillside?
Answer: Legend has it that while he was speaking, all of the snakes were driven out into the sea.

7. Question: What color was originally associated with St. Patrick?
Answer: Blue.

Related: 10 St. Patrick's Day Party Cocktails and Apps

8. Question: According to legend, what did St. Patrick use to describe the Holy Trinity?
Answer: The shamrock.

9. Question: What is another term used for Ireland?
Answer: "The Emerald Isle."

10. Question: What does St. Patrick's name mean?
Answer: "Patricius," or "Patrick," comes from the Latin term for "father figure."

11. Question: Why did it take until 1998 for the city of Belfast (in Northern Ireland) to have a St. Patrick's Day parade?
Answer: Because of Protestant hostility toward the display of Irish national symbols.

12. Question: According to Hallmark, how many Americans exchange St. Patrick's Day cards each year?
Answer: 12 million Americans.

13. Question: Why was St. Patrick's Day once celebrated in May instead of March?
Answer: In 2001, a foot-and-mouth outbreak ran rampant in Ireland, so Dublin's St. Patrick's Day parade was moved to May (with a great turnout of 1.2 million!).

14. Question: From 1927 to 1961, where was the one place in Ireland that legally allowed drinking on St. Patrick's Day?
Answer: The RDS Dog Show.

15. Question: Is St. Patrick's Day the most popular drinking day in America?
Answer: No, it's actually the fourth most popular (behind New Year's Eve, Christmas Day and the Fourth of July).

Related: 30 More St. Patrick's Day Trivia Questions

And that's not all—here are 18 Irish celebrities to celebrate on St. Patrick's Day!