Thursday, March 16, 2006

St. Patrick's Day

Amy Rainey at the Chronicle of Higher Education posted these little know facts about St. Patrik's Day.

1. St. Patrick's Day is celebrated all over the world, even in Ulaanbaater, Mongolia. Ulaanbaatar began to celebrate St. Patrick's Day after receiving a package from the Irish beer maker Guinness with instructions for celebrating Irish identity and singing songs like "Danny Boy." Other unlikely St. Paddy's celebrations take place in Moscow, Tokyo, and Lagos, Nigeria.

2. Looking for an excuse to take the day off from class, engineering students at the University of Missouri at Columbia declared in 1903 that St. Patrick was the patron saint of engineers, for only an engineer could drive the snakes out of Ireland. Since then, engineering students at Midwest schools have celebrated the holiday as a day for engineers.

3. One in 10 Americans report their ancestry as Irish, according to the 2000 Census. Irish is the second-largest ancestry among Americans; German is No. 1.

4. Eating corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day is a peculiarly American tradition. In Ireland the day is used an excuse to drink alcohol and eat sweet foods, which people have given up for Lent.

5. The first St. Patrick's Day parade was held in New York in 1762. In the late 19th century, St. Patrick's Day celebrations in New York, Boston, and Chicago began to include people of all heritages. Out of these inclusive festivals developed the Irish-American traditions of large parades, green beer, and draping oneself head to toe in emerald.

6. The only town in the world named St. Patrick is in northeast Missouri. The Missouri town, population 19, has a shrine to the saint that was built in 1935. Letters from all over the world are sent to the post office each year to be mailed out on March 17 with a special shamrock postmark.

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