5 Things You Didn’t Know About St. Patrick’s Day

March 8, 2013 10:15 PM

A costumed parade goer on 5th Avenue during the 250th New York City St Patrick’s Day Parade on March 17, 2011. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Massachusetts and Irish heritage have been synonymous for centuries. Every St. Patrick’s Day, a massive celebration of that ancestry can be seen from Southie to Holyoke. Here are five things you don’t know about St. Patrick’s Day and Irish heritage that will get you excited for the upcoming holiday.
(Photo credit TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

A lot of Irish

About 34.7 million U.S. residents claim Irish ancestry. This number is more than seven times the population of Ireland, which is 4.58 million (numbers all according to the 2010 U.S. Census). Percentage-wise, the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts lead the ranks in their respective categories. (Sorry New York, but we’re ignoring “total population” numbers.) The community with the most Irish Americans in the entire country (percentage-wise) is also local. Some 47.5 percent of Scituate’s roughly 18,000 residents claim Irish ancestry.

(Photo credit: PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit: PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Raise A pint… after the parade

Despite St. Patrick’s Day’s unofficial reputation as a drinking holiday, you aren’t allowed to bring any booze to the Southie Parade. It’s a $200 fine, and police enforce this rule. In the past two years, officers patrolling the parade issued more than 500 citations for public drinking. In spite of this strict booze ban, Boston and the rest of the world manage to combine to put back about 13 million pints of Guinness each St. Patrick’s Day.

St. Patrick wasn’t Irish

The patron saint of the Irish actually considered himself both a Roman and a Briton. He introduced Christianity to the Irish, which is why he became their patron saint. It’s believed that St. Patrick was born in Dunbarton, Scotland, Cumberland, England, or in northern Wales. At the time, those parts of the U.K. were under Roman rule.

The St. Patrick's Day Parade in Southie.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Southie.

What are we celebrating, again?

A holy day of obligation and a national holiday in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is not an officially recognized holiday in the U.S. Boston and surrounding communities are the only ones in the entire country that officially shut down for the day. Sure we have the oldest and one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the country. But while Irish influence may deserve partial credit for the day off, the holiday is officially known as Evacuation Day. It’s a celebration of the British troops’ evacuation of Boston, which happened on March 17, 1776.

Seeing Green. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Seeing Green. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Not Going Green

It’s well-known that green is the color to wear on St. Patrick’s Day, that goes for our local sports teams as well. The Red Sox have donned green in spring training games on St. Patrick’s Day since 2004. The Bruins rolled out a jersey last year that they wore during warm-ups. In 2009, the Celtics, though, were forced to ditch the green. They played the Chicago Bulls in Chicago, and the home team chose to show off their green commemorative jerseys. The Celtics wound up making four more turnovers than the Bulls, which we assume had something to do with confusion over uniform color. They wound up losing the game 127-121.