7 things you didn't know about St. Patrick's Day


March 16, 2010 at 6:02 p.m.
Updated March 15, 2010 at 10:16 p.m.

1. St. Patrick is one of the most famous Irishmen of all time. The only thing is, he's not actually Irish. He was born in Britain and was kidnapped as a teenager by Irish brigands who brought him to the Emerald Isle, according to the National Geographic Web site. He served in bondage for six years before escaping, and then 14 years later he returned to spread the Christian faith throughout Ireland.

2. While in the U.S., not wearing green on March 17 is likely to get you pinched; in Ireland, wearing green is likely to get you kidnapped by a faery, according to Irish lore. The color is considered unlucky in the country and folklore holds that it's the favorite color of the faeries, according to the Irish Culture and Customs Web site by Bridget Haggerty. The faeries are likely to steal anyone, especially children, who wear too much of the color.

3. St. Patrick's Day is a big deal in Texas, particularly in this area. It is believed as many as 25 Irishmen signed the Goliad Declaration of Independence and four did sign the Texas Declaration of Independence, according to the Handbook of Texas Online. In 1828, empressarios James Power and James Hewetson settled 300 Irish colonists in Refugio County and their legacy can still be seen today in the area, according to the county's official Web site.

4. There's no doubt that on St. Patrick's Day, everyone is Irish and as such, many will celebrate the holiday by imbibing on alcoholic beverages. But did you know the famous Irish export Guinness may actually be good for your health? A 2003 study by the American Heart Association found that a pint of the brew a day may be as effective as daily aspirin in reducing blood clots that cause heart attacks. "Slainté!"

5. In Ireland, it is a religious holiday and in the U.S. and Canada an excuse to let loose. But while North America holds the largest St. Patrick's Day productions and celebrations, the holiday is also celebrated in many other countries, as far away as Japan, Singapore and Russia, according to the History Channel's Web site, www.history.com.

6. About 9 million St. Patrick's Day cards are sent out each year, making it the eighth largest card-sending holiday in the U.S., according to Hallmark.

7. There is a Dublin, Texas, as well as a Shamrock, Texas. There is also The Harp & Shamrock Society of Texas, which is based in San Antonio and was formed to celebrate and raise awareness of the Irish heritage in the Lone Star state, according to the organization's official mission statement.



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