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St Patrick's DAy

Every year on March 17, the Irish and the Irish-at-heart across the globe observe St. Patrick’s Day. What began as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland has become an international festival celebrating Irish culture with parades, dancing, special foods and a whole lot of green. Many people wear an item of green clothing on the day. Parties featuring Irish food and drinks that are dyed in green food colour are part of this celebration. It is a time when children can indulge in sweets and adults can enjoy a “pint” of beer at a local pub.

The Chicago River's bright emerald green in honour of St Patrick's Day is a tradition that's been upheld in the city for more than 50 years - but how did it begin? The tradition has its origins in the city's efforts to detect illegal sewage dumping back in 1962. Plumbers use fluorescein dye along the river, which turns it bright green if toxic sludge was detected. The dyeing of the river is still sponsored by the local plumbers union, but now they use a harmless vegetable dye to get the right colour green. The exact formula is a closely guarded secret, but it has been tested and is safe for the environment. Later, thousands of cheering onlookers clustered along downtown bridges as members of Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union Local 130 began dumping containers of dye into the river. Organizers had feared that large chunks of ice would impede the process, but recent warm temperatures kept the river clear. The colour typically lasts about six to 12 hours.

Did you know that the most common St Patrick's Day symbol is the shamrock. Saint Patrick, Ireland's patron saint, is said to have used it as a metaphor for the Christian Holy Trinity.

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