Everything You Thought You Knew About St. Patrick’s Day Was Wrong

As you sit at your desk, counting down the minutes until 5:00 when you can finally leave the office and begin working on tomorrow’s holiday hangover — look, there’s a new Conversion Pipeline blog to read! I’m sad to say there’s no pot of gold at the end of our rainbow, but in our little corner, in the land of digital marketing, there are shamrock earrings and Irish Car Bomb cupcakes, beer to share (later, of course), and a few “facts” you thought you knew about St. Patrick’s Day proven false.

You thought you his name was Patrick, and that he was Irish.

Wrong, and wrong.

The revered figure we celebrate today, his name was Palladius; and Palladius was born in Scotland in the 4th century. When he was a teenager, the man who would be a saint was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ireland. Don’t worry: Six years later he escaped, traveled back to Scotland, joined a monastery, and returned to Ireland as a missionary where he lived until he died.

You thought March 17 was his birthday.


In fact, a saint’s feast day marks the day of their death, not the day of their birth. This year’s occasion commemorates the 1,555th anniversary of St. Patrick’s death.

You thought green was the color of the day.

And so it has become. Don’t wear green, and you might just get pinched. But emerald was not St. Patrick’s color at all. Members of the Order of St. Patrick actually used blue as their symbolic color. The shade: St. Patrick’s blue.

You thought corned beef was the most Irish of traditions.

Not so much an old country tradition as an immigrant tradition, thanks to Jewish influence. That’s right, until the 20th century, it was much more affordable to raise pork — and corned beef is borderline unheard of. No one ate corned beef to celebrate St. Patrick until the late 19th century when Irish immigrants began frequenting Jewish delis in New York City.

You thought St. Patrick’s Day was always an occasion for libation.

This is another tradition we Americans have Irish immigrants to thank for. Until they began flocking to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Feast of St. Patrick was a solemn occasion, a day for prayer and quiet reflection. Only in the last hundred-some years has the day become known as a day to celebrate the Irish heritage we (may or may not) share with good food and green beer.

It feels so good now, doesn’t it, to know how wrong you were — to now know the truth, to know the power of knowledge you’ll have over your friends at the bar tonight, and to know that next year you don’t have to wear green if you don’t want to: You can wear blue!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and please drink responsibly.

Oh, and one last thing. If you must, say Happy St. Paddy’s (not, never St. Patty’s).