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10 things you didn’t know about St Patrick’s Day

March 17 is the day the world goes green but how much do you know about Ireland's national day?

Ireland’s national day is celebrated around the world. As New Zealand gets ready to go green on March 17 we take a look at some things you may not know about St Patrick’s Day and Ireland’s patron saint.

NZ began the Global Greening

NZ began the Global Greening

More than 300 landmarks around the world light up green on St Patrick’s Day, from the Empire State Building in New York to the Sydney Opera House. The greening began 10 years ago in Auckland with the lighting up of the Sky Tower. This year Eden Park, Auckland Museum, the Sky Tower and Auckland Harbour Bridge will glow green as well as Christchurch Airport and the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington.

St Patrick’s colour used to be blue

St Patrick’s colour used to be blue

Although nowadays Ireland is associated with green, St Patrick’s traditional colour was blue. Green became adopted with the rise of Irish nationalism.

NZ has Australasia’s longest running St Patrick’s Festival

NZ has Australasia’s longest running St Patrick’s Festival

The St Patrick’s Festival has been running in New Zealand for almost 25 years. It marks the biggest celebration of Irish culture in New Zealand, with a parade and Irish Music and Dance Festival in Auckland on St Patrick’s Day.

St Patrick was not born in Ireland

St Patrick wasn’t Irish

St Patrick was born in Wales. He was captured by Irish pirates and taken as a slave to Ireland. He escaped back to Britain before returning to Ireland years later as a Christian missionary.

The sale of alcohol on St Patrick’s Day was once banned

The sale of alcohol on St Patrick’s Day was once banned

Although now known as a day to have a drink, it was heavily frowned upon for decades in Ireland. The Irish government banned the sale of alcohol on St Patrick’s Day in 1927 and this wasn’t repealed until 1961.

St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in space

St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in space

Since 2011, astronauts on board the International Space Station have marked Ireland’s national day while floating in space, wearing green, playing traditional Irish music instruments and singing Irish songs.

The royals mark St Patrick’s Day

The royals mark St Patrick’s Day with their own special ceremony

Every St Patrick’s Day, a member of the British royal family presents the Irish Guards with shamrocks for their headgear. This traditional role has been the responsibility of a female member of the royal family since its inception in 1901.

New York has the world’s biggest parade

New York has the world’s biggest parade

Approximately two million people are expected to line the streets of Manhattan for the biggest St Patrick’s Day parade in the world. A parade has taken place in the city every St Patrick’s Day since 1762.

It’s a public holiday in Montserrat

It’s a public holiday in Montserrat

St Patrick’s Day is of course a national day in Ireland, but the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat also marks St Patrick’s Day as a public holiday. Montserrat has strong ties to Ireland that go back to the 1600s, when Irish refugees settled in the West Indies. Montserrat’s national emblem is an Irish shamrock adorning Government house.

Chicago dyes river green

Chicago dyes its river green

Dyeing the river has been a St Patrick’s Day tradition in the US city since 1962. The dye is especially made for the river and keeps the water green for up to 48 hours.

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