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Bet You Didn't Know - St. Patrick's Day (The History Channel)
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Get the real story about this beloved Irish holiday and the patron saint it's named after. By the History Channel.

Millions of people around the world dawn their best green attire every March 17th to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. But there’s a lot we bet you didn’t know about Ireland’s patron saint…

To start with, St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish. He was born around the fifth century in Britain, then part of the Roman Empire. At sixteen, he was kidnapped by irish raiders and spent 6 years in captivity. He converted to Christianity and later returned to Ireland to spend the rest of his life working as a Christian missionary. After Patrick died on March 17th 461, he was largely forgotten until mythology and legend grew. And centuries later he was honored as the Patron Saint of Ireland.
 
According to one famous myth, Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland. The story symbolizes Patrick cleansing the island of Paganism. It’s just one problem: “Ireland never had any snakes”. To begin with, the Emerald Isle is surrounded by water too fridge for snakes to migrate there, whether from Britain or anywhere else.
 
According to another famous story, Patrick used the three leafs of the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. As result, people in 18th Century, Ireland started wearing shamrocks to signify their Irish Christian faith. That tradition lead there grew into wearing green clothing: a popular St. Patrick’s Day custom today. Though shamrocks don’t really exist, we know them as anyone of several three leaf plants such as wood sorrel or white and yellow clover.

As important as St. Patrick is to Irish history, we bet you didn’t know that tradition of celebrating March 17th with parades actually started in America. The parades tradition really took off the Great potato famine in Ireland in the 1840s, sending hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants arriving into New York, Boston and other American cities. The First St. Patrick’s days Parade in New York dates to 1762, when a group of Irish soldiers serving with the British marched a few blocks to a tavern in Lower Manhattan. Today is the largest and longest St. Patrick’s Day Parade hosting close to 200,000 participants and nearly 3,000,000 spectators each year. So this March 17th we hope to be wearing green and toasting to some interesting facts about History that we bet you didn’t know.

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