Here are a couple of stories about St. Patrick’s Day from Uncle John’s bottomless archives.
The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held in New York City in 1762 or 1766. Given the rather “fluid” nature of postparade celebrations, confusion over the exact date is no surprise. The 1766 date sticks out for officialdom, though, because it was the first of the parades when a military unit led off. Today, more than 150,000 participants march down Fifth Avenue every March 17. The Ancient Order of Hibernians is there and, marching along with them to the cadence of drums and bagpipes, are 30 Irish county societies and Irish nationalist groups of almost every stripe. The pride, the pageantry, and the color—who needs floats?
(More on this in Uncle John’s Plunges Into History Again)
St. Patrick wasn’t Irish
The patron saint of Ireland was actually born in Scotland in the late 4th century. When he was a teenager, Palladius (his real name) was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ireland. Six years later, he escaped and went back to Scotland, where he joined a monastery. As an adult, Palladius returned to Ireland as a missionary, where he lived for 40 years, dying in A.D. 461 (And he didn’t drive away any snakes—there weren’t any.)
(Read about more myths in Uncle John’s Fully Loaded 25th Anniversary Bathroom Reader)