SOURCE: Cheapflights Canada

Cheapflights Canada

February 29, 2012 11:07 ET

Cheapflights.ca Tests Your St. Paddy's Day Trivia Knowledge

Reveals 17 Surprising Facts About St. Patrick's Day

TORONTO--(Marketwire - Feb 29, 2012) - With only 17 days until we celebrate the lucky Irish on St. Patrick's Day, Cheapflights.ca, the online leader in finding and publishing travel deals, gets in the green spirit with some trivia fun, revealing its 17 Surprising Facts about St. Patrick's Day. Well-known St. Patrick's Day traditions include wearing the colour green, enjoying a pint or two of Guinness and checking out a St. Paddy's Day Parade. However did you know that St. Patrick was not even Irish? Or that blue was actually the colour most often associated with the saint? And that Montserrat and Newfoundland, Canada, are the only other two places around the world (besides Ireland, of course) where St. Patrick's Day is a public holiday? Get ready to impress your family and friends with your newfound St. Patrick's Day expertise courtesy of the team at Cheapflights.

Put your knowledge of Irish luck to the test as Cheapflights reveals interesting facts about this Irish holiday celebrated worldwide. Here are 10 noteworthy and fun tidbits of information to make Cheapflights.ca's list of 17 Surprising Facts about St. Patrick's Day:

  • St. Patrick was not Irish; he was from Wales. And the humble shamrock was, originally, a teaching tool; St. Patrick used the three-leaved plant to explain the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) to the pagan Irish.

  • Boston lays claim to the first St. Patrick's Day parade in 1737. However, it was the people of New York who got together and had the first organized parade in 1766. Today, about 36 million Americans claim Irish descent.

  • Odd to think, given the profusion of everything green on St. Patrick's Day, that the colour most often associated with the saint was blue. St. Patrick's blue was considered symbolic of Ireland for many centuries and the Irish Presidential Standard is still blue. While small splashes of green were worn as far back as 1681, it was only when political factions started adopting the colour green that it became synonymous with St. Patrick's Day.

  • We're used to seeing rivers and fountains dyed green. The Chicago River is the most famous example of this, but in Seattle, Washington, a green stripe is laid along the centre of 4th Avenue to mark the route of the St. Patrick's Day Parade (from 4th Ave at Jefferson up to Westlake Park). The ceremony is carried out the night before the parade (Friday, March 16, this year).

  • The shamrock that is traditionally given to the American president at the White House is grown in County Kerry. The Taoiseach and the president (President O'Bama for the day no doubt) wear their green ties, pose for the media with the crystal bowl that overflows with the lush, green shamrock, exchange friendly words about Ireland-US relations and then the Secret Service take it away and destroy the plant.

  • St. Patrick's Day is one of the most-loved public holidays in Ireland, breaking up that long stretch between New Year's and Easter. Although it was made an official holiday in 1903, it was only in the 1960s that one could drown the shamrock in a pub (that's when you pull the shamrock off your lapel and throw it into the last drink of the night).

  • Montserrat, a welcoming home to Irish slaves in the 17th century, is one of the few places outside Ireland where St. Patrick's Day is a public holiday. Its festival runs for one week (March 10-19) with a Freedom Run, calypso competition, nature hike and a reconstructed Slave Village teeming with stalls selling delicious African-Irish delicacies.

  • Wild and windswept Newfoundland, Canada, has a provincial holiday on March 17, which marks its historic associations with Ireland. Generations of Irish immigrants have made their mark with place names such as St. Patrick's, Patrick's Cove, Ireland's Eye and Kilbride.

  • Montreal is home to one of the longest-running parades in North America. It goes back to 1824. No surprise there, the flag of Montreal has a shamrock, representing the Irish, in the bottom right corner. Along with the English, French and Scottish, the Irish were one of the founding groups in the 19th century.

  • The Shamrock Shake is McDonald's contribution to the feast of St. Patrick. The much-loved creation is 540 calories of minty-flavoured nectar topped off with whipped cream and a juicy red cherry. Like leprechauns, Aran jumpers, and corned beef and cabbage it only comes out at this time of year. It's on sale at McDonald's in the US, Canada and Ireland until March 25. There's even a website devoted to Shamrock Shake sightings.

To further brush up on your St. Paddy's Day knowledge, check out the remaining seven facts included in Cheapflights.ca's 17 Surprising Facts about St. Patrick's Day, at www.cheapflights.ca/travel-tips/17-surprising-facts-about-st-patricks-day.

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