USA TODAY NETWORKJolie Lee, for USA TODAY NETWORK
et out your green! It’s St. Patrick’s Day. USA TODAY Network explains the origins of some of the Irish holiday’s traditions.
1. Who was St. Patrick?
St. Patrick — brace yourself — was not actually Irish. Patrick was a nobleman born in about 400 A.D. in Britain and kidnapped by Irish pirates at the age of 16, said Philip Freeman, author of St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography.
Patrick was born into a religious family, but was an atheist early in his life. However, he rediscovered his faith while enslaved in Ireland, Freeman told USA TODAY Network.
After 17 years as a slave, St. Patrick escaped Ireland and found his way home, but returned to Ireland as a missionary.
“He said he was ready to die in Ireland in order to make his mission successful,” Freeman said.
It’s unclear if St. Patrick did in fact die in Ireland, but March 17 is widely believed to be the day of his death, according to Freeman.
2. Green River in Chicago is a family affair:
Another unique tradition that has grown in popularity every year is the annual dyeing of the Chicago River for St. Patrick’s Day.