Luck O’ The Irish

Credited for bringing Christianity to Ireland, St. Patrick was a fifth century patron saint and apostle. Patrick was born in Britain, kidnapped at age 16, and sold into slavery. He escaped, spending 12 years in a monastery. Legend says Patrick returned to Ireland, teaching the Holy Trinity using the three leaves of a native Irish clover, the shamrock.

Kiss me I’m Irish. On March 17th many claim to be a little Irish, but did you know that Irish is the most common ethnicity of Americans, second only to German. Some 36.2 million U.S. citizens have an Irish ancestry, 7 times the entire population of Ireland. In a given location, 12% of residents are Irish except in Massachusetts, which averages 23%.

Food and Fun. The first parade honoring St. Patrick occurred in Boston in March, 1762. Ireland didn’t follow suit until 1931 with a parade in Dublin. In 2009, about 26.1 billion pounds of beef and 2.3 billion pounds of cabbage were produced in the U.S. for the traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal, corned beef and cabbage.

Shamrock Green. If you find a 4-leaf clover, you definitely have the Luck O’ the Irish. For every 4-leaf clover, there are 10,000 three-leaf clovers. In fact, the first 3 leaves mean, “hope”, “faith”, and “love”, but the 4th means “luck.” The Guinness Book, however, lists the greatest number of cloverleaves ever found to be 56. In Ireland people wear shamrocks on their jackets or hats in celebration. Since 1961, the city of Chicago has dyed the Chicago River green in honor of the day.

Revolutionary Connection. By 1776, Boston had been besieged by British troops for almost eight years. General George Washington formulated a plan to take back the town. With cannons strategically placed on the hills of Dorchester Heights, 2000 Continental Troops at the ready, and inclement weather working in his favor, Washington strong-armed the British into withdrawing from Boston. They evacuated on March 17, 1776. George Washington ordered that only those possessing the secret password could pass checkpoints surrounding Boston that day. The codeword- “St. Patrick.”

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