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5 fun facts about St. Patrick's Day to wow your friends and family

Saint Patrick wasn't Irish and neither is corned beef.

St. Patrick's Day
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Several St. Patrick's Day traditions didn't originally come from Ireland.

Shamrocks, leprechauns, corned beef and cabbage, pinches for those who forget to wear green—St. Patrick's Day is filled with traditions that have passed down from generation to generation. What began as a religious holiday in Ireland over 1,000 years ago to honor Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, has morphed into a raucous celebration of all things Irish here across the pond.

Ironically, however, some of those traditions and "all things Irish" didn't actually come from Ireland—including Saint Patrick himself.

If you want to impress your friends with some interesting St. Patrick's day trivia, here's a handful of fun facts to put in your pocket.


1. Saint Patrick wasn't actually Irish. He was British.

Born in Britain in 386 A.D., St. Patrick was captured by pirates and brought to Ireland at age 16, where he was sold as a slave. For six years, he worked in the fields, tending sheep and praying. One night, he dreamt that God was directing him to a boat that would take him home, and in 408 A.D., he escaped Ireland. Then, after being ordained as a bishop in 432 A.D., the Pope sent him back to the Emerald Isle to spread Christianity.

"Patrick became inflamed with the desire to help alleviate the suffering of the Irish people who were burdened under the yoke of slavery, brutal tribal warfare and pagan idolatry," Matthew Paul Grote, a Catholic priest with the Order of Preachers, shared with USA Today. Saint Patrick incorporated pagan rituals into Christian worship practices to ease the resistance to Christianity. Even when he was attacked and captured by Irish clans, he would respond with non-violence and share his Catholic faith peacefully, always treating non-Christians with fairness.

He is credited with the spread of Christianity in Ireland, but he himself wasn't Irish.

2. The legend about St. Patrick driving all the snakes out of Ireland? Literally impossible.

Legend has it that St. Patrick was fasting for 40 days on a hilltop when he was attacked by snakes. With a sermon and a wave of his staff, he drove all the snakes in Ireland out to the sea where they all drowned, which is why, according to the lore, there are no snakes in Ireland.

Except there were never any snakes in Ireland, according to the fossil record. The cool climate and being part of an island make Ireland uninhabitable for snakes. Scholars today generally view the snake story as a metaphor for driving paganism out of Ireland.

3. St. Patrick's Day was not traditionally a festive holiday.

Parades filled with floats, pubs filled with festivity, parties filled with frivolity—all of that fun, celebratory St. Patrick's day revelry is fairly new. For the vast majority of the holiday's history in Ireland, it was a somber, quiet religious holy day spent in prayer. It wasn't until Irish immigrants to America began celebrating their Irish pride in the 1700s with parades and such that the holiday became more of a festive occasion.

According to History.com, the invention of the television let Irish people see how the U.S. celebrated the holiday, which led to the party atmosphere making its way to Ireland.

4. The traditional color associated with St. Patrick was blue, not green.

St. Patrick's Day is all about green green green, from the shamrock shakes to the leprechaun coats to the Irish flag. But the color Saint Patrick himself was actually associated with is blue. The earliest depictions of the patron saint of Ireland show him in blue garments, and according to The Smithsonian, when George III created the Order of St. Patrick, a new order of chivalry for the Kingdom of Ireland, its official color was known as "St. Patrick's Blue."

Green is more of a political color than a religious one, as it became the color of Irish nationalism in 1789 with a series of rebellions against the UK. And really, green makes the most sense as a symbol for a place known as The Emerald Isle. The shamrock helps, too. (Another fun fact: The green, white and orange flag of Ireland was officially adopted in 1937 and points directly to the contemporary history between the Catholic and Protestant branches of Christianity in the country.)

5. The tradition of eating corned beef didn't come from Ireland, either.

For many Americans, a St. Patrick's Day meal simply must include corned beef and cabbage. Traditional Irish fare, right? Nope.

Though the Irish produced some of the world's most sought-after corned beef in the mid-1600s, they didn't eat it themselves. Due to England's oppressive laws, Irish people couldn't afford beef, and when they could afford meat, they ate salted pork or bacon. (The reason they produced corned beef was due to some complicated history with the UK and cattle shipping restrictions.)

Two centuries later, Irish immigrants who had a bit more money started buying kosher beef from their Jewish immigrant neighbors in America. According to The Smithsonian, what we consider Irish corned beef today was really Jewish corned beef tossed into a stew with some cabbage and potatoes—truly an example of the American immigration "melting pot."

In Ireland today, you'd most likely be served lamb or beef stew for a St. Patrick's Day feast. (However, much like our St. Paddy's Day revelry, the American tradition of corned beef has slowly made its way into Ireland's celebrations as well.)

It's a wee bit funny to dive into the history of St. Patrick's Day and find that many of the things we typically think of as old Irish traditions are neither particularly old (compared to Saint Patrick himself) nor purely Irish. That's not to say these traditions are not worth celebrating; Irish Americans have their own storied history in the U.S., after all, and who doesn't love a dyed green river or a green-themed parade with lucky shamrocks and leprechauns?

No matter how you celebrate, have a very Happy St. Patrick's Day! Or as they say in Irish Gaelic, "Beannachtaí na Féile Padraig ort!" (Watch how to pronounce it below.)

Pop Culture

Airbnb host finds unexpected benefits from not charging guests a cleaning fee

Host Rachel Boice went for a more "honest" approach with her listings—and saw major perks because of it.

@rachelrboice/TikTok

Many frustrated Airbnb customers have complained that the separate cleaning fee is a nuisance.

Airbnb defines its notorious cleaning fee as a “one-time charge” set by the host that helps them arrange anything from carpet shampoo to replenishing supplies to hiring an outside cleaning service—all in the name of ensuring guests have a “clean and tidy space.”

But as many frustrated Airbnb customers will tell you, this feature is viewed as more of a nuisance than a convenience. According to NerdWallet, the general price for a cleaning fee is around $75, but can vary greatly between listings, with some units having cleaning fees that are higher than the nightly rate (all while sometimes still being asked to do certain chores before checking out). And often none of these fees show up in the total price until right before the booking confirmation, leaving many travelers feeling confused and taken advantage of.

However, some hosts are opting to build cleaning fees into the overall price of their listings, mimicking the strategy of traditional hotels.

Rachel Boice runs two Airbnb properties in Georgia with her husband Parker—one being this fancy glass plane tiny house (seen below) that promises a perfect glamping experience.

@rachelrboice Welcome to The Tiny Glass House 🤎 #airbnbfinds #exploregeorgia #travelbucketlist #tinyhouse #glampingnotcamping #atlantageorgia #fyp ♬ Aesthetic - Tollan Kim

Like most Airbnb hosts, the Boice’s listing showed a nightly rate and separate cleaning fee. According to her interview with Insider, the original prices broke down to $89 nightly, and $40 for the cleaning fee.

But after noticing the negative response the separate fee got from potential customers, Rachel told Insider that she began charging a nightly rate that included the cleaning fee, totaling to $129 a night.

It’s a marketing strategy that more and more hosts are attempting in order to generate more bookings (people do love feeling like they’re getting a great deal) but Boice argued that the trend will also become more mainstream since the current Airbnb model “doesn’t feel honest.”

"We stay in Airbnbs a lot. I pretty much always pay a cleaning fee," Boice told Insider. "You're like: 'Why am I paying all of this money? This should just be built in for the cost.'"

Since combining costs, Rachel began noticing another unexpected perk beyond customer satisfaction: guests actually left her property cleaner than before they were charged a cleaning fee. Her hypothesis was that they assumed she would be handling the cleaning herself.

"I guess they're thinking, 'I'm not paying someone to clean this, so I'll leave it clean,'" she said.

This discovery echoes a similar anecdote given by another Airbnb host, who told NerdWallet guests who knew they were paying a cleaning fee would “sometimes leave the place looking like it’s been lived in and uncleaned for months.” So, it appears to be that being more transparent and lumping all fees into one overall price makes for a happier (and more considerate) customer.

These days, it’s hard to not be embittered by deceptive junk fees, which can seem to appear anywhere without warning—surprise overdraft charges, surcharges on credit cards, the never convenience “convenience charge” when purchasing event tickets. Junk fees are so rampant that certain measures are being taken to try to eliminate them outright in favor of more honest business approaches.

Speaking of a more honest approach—as of December 2022, AirBnb began updating its app and website so that guests can see a full price breakdown that shows a nightly rate, a cleaning fee, Airbnb service fee, discounts, and taxes before confirming their booking.

Guests can also activate a toggle function before searching for a destination, so that full prices will appear in search results—avoiding unwanted financial surprises.


This article originally appeared on 11.08.23

National Autistic Society/Youtube

"Diverted" educational video shared through the Too Much Information Campaign.

Everyone who lives with autism experiences it somewhat differently. You'll often hear physicians and advocates refer to the spectrum that exists for those who are autistic, pointing to a wide range of symptoms and skills.

But one thing many autistic people experience is sensory processing issues.


For autistic people, processing the world around them when it comes to sight, smell, or touch can be challenging, as their senses are often over- or under-sensitive. Certain situations — like meandering through a congested mall or enduring the nonstop blasting of police sirens — can quickly become unbearable.

This reality is brought to life in a new video by the U.K.'s National Autistic Society (NAS).

The eye-opening PSA takes viewers into the mind of a autistic woman as she thinks about struggling to stay composed in a crowded, noisy train.

It's worth a watch:

The PSA hit especially close to home for 22-year-old actress and star of the video Saskia Lupin, who is autistic herself. "Overall I feel confused," she said, of abrupt changes to her routine. "Like I can't do anything and all sense of rationality is lost."

She's not alone.

According to a study cited in NAS' press release, 75% of autistic people say unexpected changes make them feel socially isolated. What's more, 67% reported seeing or hearing negative reactions from the public when they try to calm themselves down in such situations — from eyerolls and stares to unwelcome, hurtful comments.

The new PSA aims to improve that last figure in particular.

It's part of the organization's Too Much Information campaign — an initiative to build empathy and understanding in allistic (i.e., not autistic) people for those on the spectrum.

Autism Awareness Day, campaign, World Autism Awareness Week

Campaign by National Autistic Society created to share the autistic experience to the world.

Photo from Pixabay

"It isn't that the public sets out to be judgmental towards autistic people," Mark Lever, chief executive of the NAS, said in a statement in 2016. It's just that, often, the public doesn't "see" the autism.

"They see a 'strange' man pacing back and forth in a shopping center," Lever explained, "or a 'naughty' girl having a tantrum on a bus, and don't know how to respond."

Well, now we do.

Instead of staring, rolling your eyes, or thinking judgmental thoughts about the young person's parents, remember: You have no idea what that stranger on the train is going through.

“We can't make the trains run on time," said Lever. But even the simplest, smallest things — like remembering not to stare and giving a person some space and compassion if they need it — can make a big difference.


This article originally appeared on 03.28.18

Pop Culture

A brave fan asks Patrick Stewart a question he doesn't usually get and is given a beautiful answer

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through.

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through. However, how he answered this vulnerable and brave fan's question is one of the most eloquent, passionate responses about domestic violence I've ever seen.



WARNING: At 2:40, he's going to break your heart a little.

You can read more about Heather Skye's hug with Captain Picard at her blog.


This article originally appeared on 06.26.13.


How to clear a stuffy nose instantly.

With cold season upon us, there's no better time to learn a couple of awesome and easy tricks that will clear up the dreaded and annoying stuffy nose.

Prevention magazine created a short video showing two easy ways to get you breathing free again no matter how stuffed up you might be.


Both tricks take less than two minutes and are certainly worth trying out when it feels like that runny nose might never go away.


Watch the YouTube video below:

This article first appeared on 9.8.17.

Family

Heartwarming comics break down complex parenting issues with ease

Lunarbaboon comics tackle huge, important subjects with an effective, lighthearted touch that you can't help but smile at.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Writing comics helped a father struggling with anxiety and depression.

Christopher Grady, a father and teacher from Toronto, was struggling with anxiety and depression. That's when he started drawing.

He describes his early cartoons and illustrations as a journal where he'd chronicle everyday moments from his life as a husband, elementary school teacher, and father to two kids.

"I needed a positive place to focus all my thoughts and found that when I was making comics I felt a little bit better," he says.

He began putting a few of his comics online, not expecting much of a response. But he quickly learned that people were connecting with his work in a deep way.


The comics series called Lunarbaboon was born, and the response to the first few was so powerful that Grady was inspired do more with his comics than just document his own experience.

"I began getting messages from many people about how they connected to the comics and it gave them hope and strength as they went through their own dark times," he says.

"When they look back…they probably won't remember what was said…or where you were when you said it. They may not remember any details of your time together. But they will remember that you were there…and that's what matters most."

"Usually the circle of people we can support, help, influence is limited to our families, friends, coworkers, random stranger at the bus stop, but with my comic I suddenly found my circle of power was much much larger," Grady explains. "I guess I decided to use this power for good."

Grady continued to draw, making a point to infuse the panels with his own special brand of positivity.

"Kids are always watching adults and they look to the adults as role models," he says. "I try to show (my kids and students) that even with all my flaws and weaknesses I am still a good person and I can still make a positive change in the world."

Lunarbaboon comics tackle huge, important subjects with an effective, lighthearted touch that you can't help but smile at.

Check out Grady's take on teaching his son about consent. (All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission.)

consent, relationship advice, father son advice, family

A comic about listening and respecting your partner.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Here's one about parents being supportive of a gay son or daughter.

sexual orientation, parenting gay children, positive messages, gender orientation

Parents being supportive of their gay son.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

On raising girls in a patriarchal world.

adulting, education, medical field, dreams

Comic encourages girls to chase all their dreams.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

And here's a sweet one about appreciating the heck out of his wife.

motherhood, moms, childbirth, family

Mom one ups dad easily.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Big topics. Important issues. Grady tackles them with humility and ease.

As Lunarbaboon has continued to grow, Grady says the messages of support he gets have become increasingly powerful.

He certainly doesn't claim to have all the answers to all the complexities of parenting, but he does say that "people like knowing they aren't alone in life's daily struggles. Most people who contact me just want to say thank you for putting something positive into the world."

Grady doesn't expect his Lunarbaboon comics to fix rape culture or end bigotry. He just hopes his message of love, inclusion, and positivity continues to spread.

inclusion, gender roles, social anxiety, happy

Teaching children to accept what might be different.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

"My hope is that for the short time people read it they smile and feel good," he says. "Then I hope they take that good feeling and smile into the world and make it slightly brighter."

You can check out even more of Grady's awesome work over on his website or in his newly published book.


This article was originally published on 11.30.17