Hello, it’s Uncle John here!
I’ve been hard at work at the Bathroom Readers’ Institute, coming up with quizzes to test your knowledge of all things trivial, historical, or just plain juvenile. Take our first installment with a pint of your favorite green beer and some corned beef and cabbage. And don’t forget your copy of Uncle John’s Awesome 35th Anniversary Bathroom Reader for your trip to the jacks afterward.
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No luck of the Irish for you, I’m afraid. Maybe you need a copy of Strange History to bone up on your trivia.
#1. Where is St. Patrick’s Day not an official, government-sanctioned holiday?
Obviously, the holiday celebrating the patron saint of Ireland is an official one in the Republic of Ireland. It also marks a day of festivities on Montserrat, a 39-square-mile British-controlled Caribbean island. The first wave of European settlers there in the 1600s came from Ireland. It’s a similar story for Newfoundland and Labrador, the province in eastern Canada, where a quarter of the population claims Irish heritage. St. Patrick’s Day isn’t an official holiday in Northern Ireland, which shares the island of Ireland with the Republic of Ireland but is a constituent nation of the United Kingdom.
#2. The two largest St. Patrick’s Day parades on the planet take place in Dublin, Ireland, and in New York City. Who hosts the third-biggest parade?
The English city with the largest number of citizens with an Irish background is Manchester. The city celebrates in a big way, with a two-week-long Irish cultural festival that ends on St. Patrick’s Day. It includes an Irish goods market, demonstrations of Irish culture, history lessons on Ireland, and, yes, a parade.
#3. St. Patrick's fifth century act of heroism involved driving a number of snakes into the sea. According to historians, how many did he dispose of?
The story of St. Patrick, a missionary who was accosted by snakes during a 40 day period of prayer and fasting atop a hill, is all couched in legend, hearsay, and folklore. He probably didn’t drive any snakes into the sea because Ireland isn’t the native home of any snake species. It’s an island, so it’s hard for snakes to even get there in the first place, and Ireland wasn’t well-visited in the fifth century.
#4. What’s St. Patrick’s first name?
Born around the year 385, the man who would be canonized as St. Patrick after he died was originally known as Maewyn Succat. After he entered the Roman Catholic priesthood, he adopted the name of Patrick, but in its Latin form of Patricius.
#5. The Republic of Ireland is the only nation on the planet whose national emblem is a musical instrument. What is it?
The national symbol of Ireland is a harp, specifically the medieval Irish harp.