LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- The history of St. Patrick's Day is filled with lore, facts and fun.
St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17 every year to commemorate the death of St. Patrick, the apostle of Ireland.
On St. Patrick's Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink and feast on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.
What is known of St. Patrick comes from a book he wrote late in life. He says he was a missionary who converted thousands of Irish men and women to Christianity. Other stories have been built up around St. Patrick, such as he drove all the snakes out of Ireland.
It is also said St. Patrick used a shamrock to symbolize the Holy Trinity, so now the three-leafed clover is symbolic of the holiday.
So why the color green? Actually, the color associated with St. Patrick was blue; he even has his own color, "St. Patrick Blue." But the color green is associated with Ireland with its nickname "The Emerald Isle" and so St. Patrick came to be known with green as well.
Did you wear green today? The association of wearing green on St. Patrick's Day comes from Irish men and women wearing a shamrock to honor St. Patrick's Day, and that has grown into wearing green clothing. The saying goes if you don't wear green you'll be pinched!
Did you know the first St. Patrick's Day parade didn't take place in Ireland, but in New York City? In 1762 Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through the city to celebrate their heritage.
The association of St. Patrick's Day and leprechaun's is purely an American creation. Belief in leprechauns probably stems from Celtic belief in fairies, tiny men and women who could use their magical powers to serve good or evil. But a 1959 Disney movie, "Darby O'Gill and the Little People," introduced the now-familiar character who protects his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Celebrate St. Patrick's Day safely with friends and family by wearing green and enjoying the day!