As you rummage through your closet to find green clothes to wear on St. Patrick’s Day, you might also want to add a touch of blue to your outfit – the color originally associated with the holiday.
That what Éire’s official color was when it became a Kingdom in 1542. Blue made its debut on the country’s coat of arms, in which a golden harp is depicted on a blue background. St. Patrick, the person the holiday is named for, is associated with the color blue because in several pieces of artwork he is depicted wearing blue clothing.
The color green only became associated with Ireland in the 19th century when it was used during the wave of Irish nationalism to show a separation from the red and blues that were associated with England, Scotland and Wales. It was also used in the new flag of the Confederation of Ireland.
Although there isn’t currently an official national color of Ireland, the most common color associated with the country is now green. Many people who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day assume green is worn because of the greenness of the country’s landscape. So now, when your friends and family and even their pets wear green on March 17, you can wow them with the history behind the legendary color.
Below are some other little-known facts about the Irish holiday:
100 yards: The length of the world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade, held in the Irish village of Dripsey. The parade spans the distance between the two pubs in the village.
10,000: The number of three-leaf clovers that exist for every four-leaf clover.
4: The number of places in the U.S. that contain the name shamrock, the floral emblem of Ireland. These include Mount Gay-Shamrock, WV; Shamrock, TX, Shamrock Lakes, IN; and Shamrock, OK.
16: The number of places in the U.S. that are named Dublin, the same as Ireland’s capital.
1737: The year of the world’s first Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, held on March 18 in Boston.
2 million: The number of people who will participate in the New York City parade on St. Patrick’s Day, the largest parade in the world.
39.6 million: The number of Americans who claim Irish heritage – 7 times Ireland’s population.
2nd: Irish is the nation’s second most frequently reported ancestry, falling behind German.
127 million: The number of Americans who will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
45 pounds: The amount of vegetable-based dye that is used to dye the Chicago River green.
100: The number of different St. Patrick’s Day-themed Hallmark cards that are available.
70 percent: The uptick in cabbage shipments during St. Patrick’s week.
75 percent: The percentage of fatal car crashes on the holiday that will involve a driver drinking twice the legal limit.
$35.37: The average amount Americans will spend to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, slightly down from last year’s $36.52.
82.1 percent: The percentage of Americans who will wear green on the holiday.
390 A.D.: The year the holiday’s namesake was born. St. Patrick was actually born in Britain, not Ireland, but was kidnapped and sent to Ireland when he was a teenager. And his birth name was Maewyn Succat, but changed it to Patricius when he went to Ireland.
March 17: St. Patrick’s Day falls on March 17 every year on the anniversary of St. Patrick’s death.
300: The number of churches that St. Patrick is said to have established.
100,000: The number of people St. Patrick is said that have baptized.
13 million: The number of pints of Guinness that are sold on St. Patrick’s Day.
3: The number of countries where St. Patrick’s Day is an official public holiday – Ireland, the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Montserrat.
19: The number of U.S. Presidents who claimed Irish heritage.
37: The highest number of leaves reported to have been on a clover.
1936: The year the cereal brand Lucky Charms was created, along with its mascot, Lucky the Leprechaun.
1970: The year the Irish law that had closed all the pubs for the day because St. Patrick’s Day had been declared a religious observance was abolished. The law was established in 1903.
2013: The first year St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated in space. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield photographed Tralee, Ireland from the International Space Station and then recorded himself singing the traditional Irish song “Danny Boy.”
2015: The first year an LGBT group marched in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade, marking an end to a ban on openly gay groups in the parade.
March 17: Also the date of National Muay Thai Day, a Thai holiday that celebrates Thai boxers.