March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day so we’ve collected 17 fun facts about the celebration. See how many of these fun facts you already know:

  1. St Patrick’s Day is one of the world’s biggest saint’s day celebrations, celebrated in 200 countries by about 80 million people.
  2. March 17 is the feast day of St Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint. He’s believed to have died on that date in 461 AD.
  3. Green was not the color originally associated with St Patrick; it was blue. The switch happened in the 19th century.
  4. Boston, USA holds the honor of holding the first St Patrick’s Day parade in 1737.
  5. Some 23% of Boston’s population is of Irish descent – the largest ratio in America.
  6. New York is said to have the world’s biggest St Patrick’s Day parade and celebration, with 150,000 in the parade and an audience of about 3 million.
  7. Montreal has had an annual St Patrick’s Day parade since 1824 – the longest running such parade in Canada.
  8. Since 1962, the Chicago River has been dyed green in honor of the day.
  9. Shamrocks symbolize the day; St Patrick used them to explain how the father, son and holy spirit were connected. The are also Ireland’s national flower.
  10. In Ireland, people wear shamrocks on jackets and caps. Children may also wear badges in Ireland’s national colors of green, white and orange.
  11. St Patrick never chased snakes out of Ireland. The snakes of legend are actually pagans.
  12. Ironically, St Patrick wasn’t Irish, but of Scottish descent. He might even have been born in Wales.
  13. St Patrick was born Maewyn Succat, but was sold into slavery in Ireland. He took the name Patrick when he became a priest.
  14. If you have an Irish parent or grandparent, you are entitled to Irish citizenship.
  15. Among Americans, more than 9 times Ireland’s population say they have Irish ancestry – that’s 34.5 million people.
  16. Corned beef and cabbage are widely eaten in America on the day; that’s not the case in Ireland.
  17. In the US, St Patrick’s Day is a major card-giving occasion, with more than 8 million cards exchanged.

While many Americans consider St. Patrick’s Day a celebration of Irish culture, the holiday’s original roots in Ireland actually began as a holy day. Today, typical ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in America include parades with green beer, shamrocks, and leprechauns. Learn more about St. Patrick’s Day fun facts with this infographic!