(CNN)Every March 17, the world suddenly looks a bit greener as people don the color to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

From shamrocks and leprechauns to corned beef and green beer, here’s what you need to know about the holiday.What is St. Patrick’s Day?St. Patrick’s Day is the feast day of St. Patrick, who is the patron saint of Ireland. In addition to its religious roots, the holiday has become synonymous with the color green, shamrocks and festive drinking.Who was St. Patrick?Read MoreThe Irish traditionally attend church on the morning of St. Patrick's Day.The Irish traditionally attend church on the morning of St. Patrick's Day.The Irish traditionally attend church on the morning of St. Patrick’s Day.St. Patrick was a Christian missionary who converted the Irish people to Christianity. He was born in Britain in 385 AD and brought to Ireland as a slave when he was 16. Six years later, he escaped to a French monastery, became a priest and returned to Ireland to spread the teachings of Christianity. Legend says that he also drove the snakes out of Ireland. However, biologists say there were never any snakes in Ireland in the first place.How do people celebrate?The traditions and culture of St. Patrick's DayThe traditions and culture of St. Patrick's Day Photos: St. Patrick's Day traditions and cultureSt. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, but <a href="http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=89" target="_blank">he was actually Scottish</a>. He was captured by raiders as a teen and was taken to Ireland, where he was enslaved for many years. He converted to Christianity during this time and had prophetic dreams about leaving and ultimately saving Ireland. After he was ordained a bishop, he preached the Gospel and converted Irish pagans for 40 years. But he didn't actually drive away snakes from the country, as legend has it. That's because<a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/03/120316-saint-patricks-day-2012-march-17-facts-ireland-irish-nation/" target="_blank"> there were never any snakes in Ireland to begin with</a>.St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, but <a href="http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=89" target="_blank">he was actually Scottish</a>. He was captured by raiders as a teen and was taken to Ireland, where he was enslaved for many years. He converted to Christianity during this time and had prophetic dreams about leaving and ultimately saving Ireland. After he was ordained a bishop, he preached the Gospel and converted Irish pagans for 40 years. But he didn't actually drive away snakes from the country, as legend has it. That's because<a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/03/120316-saint-patricks-day-2012-march-17-facts-ireland-irish-nation/" target="_blank"> there were never any snakes in Ireland to begin with</a>. Photos: St. Patrick's Day traditions and cultureThe traditions and culture of St. Patrick's Day – St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, but he was actually Scottish. He was captured by raiders as a teen and was taken to Ireland, where he was enslaved for many years. He converted to Christianity during this time and had prophetic dreams about leaving and ultimately saving Ireland. After he was ordained a bishop, he preached the Gospel and converted Irish pagans for 40 years. But he didn’t actually drive away snakes from the country, as legend has it. That’s because there were never any snakes in Ireland to begin with.Hide Caption 1 of 10St. Patrick is said to have used a three-leaf clover to <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/17/world/europe/saint-patrick-study">explain the Holy Trinity</a> to the pagans of Ireland. The shamrock has been associated with St. Patrick and Ireland since the mid-5th century.St. Patrick is said to have used a three-leaf clover to <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/17/world/europe/saint-patrick-study">explain the Holy Trinity</a> to the pagans of Ireland. The shamrock has been associated with St. Patrick and Ireland since the mid-5th century. Photos: St. Patrick's Day traditions and cultureThe traditions and culture of St. Patrick's Day – St. Patrick is said to have used a three-leaf clover to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagans of Ireland. The shamrock has been associated with St. Patrick and Ireland since the mid-5th century.Hide Caption 2 of 10St. Patrick is known as <a href="http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=89" target="_blank">one of the great Catholic missionaries</a>. Traditionally in Ireland on St. Patrick's Day, people attend church in the morning and pray for missionaries.St. Patrick is known as <a href="http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=89" target="_blank">one of the great Catholic missionaries</a>. Traditionally in Ireland on St. Patrick's Day, people attend church in the morning and pray for missionaries. Photos: St. Patrick's Day traditions and cultureThe traditions and culture of St. Patrick's Day – St. Patrick is known as one of the great Catholic missionaries. Traditionally in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, people attend church in the morning and pray for missionaries.Hide Caption 3 of 10St. Patrick's Day often falls during Lent, when many Christians fast. However, the Irish Christians  -- and now many people around the world -- take exception for March 17 as they celebrate St. Patrick. <a href="http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day" target="_blank">Drinking, dancing and feasting are traditional parts of the celebration</a>.St. Patrick's Day often falls during Lent, when many Christians fast. However, the Irish Christians  -- and now many people around the world -- take exception for March 17 as they celebrate St. Patrick. <a href="http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day" target="_blank">Drinking, dancing and feasting are traditional parts of the celebration</a>. Photos: St. Patrick's Day traditions and cultureThe traditions and culture of St. Patrick's Day – St. Patrick’s Day often falls during Lent, when many Christians fast. However, the Irish Christians — and now many people around the world — take exception for March 17 as they celebrate St. Patrick. Drinking, dancing and feasting are traditional parts of the celebration.Hide Caption 4 of 10Although <a href="http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/holidays/st_patricks_day.htm" target="_blank">Irish people traditionally wear shamrocks and the colors of the Irish flag</a> (green, white and orange) on St. Patrick's Day, the rest of the world has embraced wearing green. Although <a href="http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/holidays/st_patricks_day.htm" target="_blank">Irish people traditionally wear shamrocks and the colors of the Irish flag</a> (green, white and orange) on St. Patrick's Day, the rest of the world has embraced wearing green. Photos: St. Patrick's Day traditions and cultureThe traditions and culture of St. Patrick's Day – Although Irish people traditionally wear shamrocks and the colors of the Irish flag (green, white and orange) on St. Patrick’s Day, the rest of the world has embraced wearing green. Hide Caption 5 of 10The Irish have had strong cultural influences on America for centuries. The first St. Patrick's Day parade held in <a href="http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/cb13-ff03.html" target="_blank">New York was organized by Irish colonists in 1762</a>, 14 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed.The Irish have had strong cultural influences on America for centuries. The first St. Patrick's Day parade held in <a href="http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/cb13-ff03.html" target="_blank">New York was organized by Irish colonists in 1762</a>, 14 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. Photos: St. Patrick's Day traditions and cultureThe traditions and culture of St. Patrick's Day – The Irish have had strong cultural influences on America for centuries. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade held in New York was organized by Irish colonists in 1762, 14 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed.Hide Caption 6 of 10<a href="http://chicagoist.com/2012/03/16/how_the_chicago_river_was_dyed_gree.php#photo-1" target="_blank">Chicago began dyeing its river green</a> to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in 1964. Today, it uses food coloring, which is environmentally safe, to turn the river green. The White House -- and many community centers across the country -- will dye the water in their fountains green to commemorate the holiday. <a href="http://chicagoist.com/2012/03/16/how_the_chicago_river_was_dyed_gree.php#photo-1" target="_blank">Chicago began dyeing its river green</a> to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in 1964. Today, it uses food coloring, which is environmentally safe, to turn the river green. The White House -- and many community centers across the country -- will dye the water in their fountains green to commemorate the holiday. Photos: St. Patrick's Day traditions and cultureThe traditions and culture of St. Patrick's Day – Chicago began dyeing its river green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in 1964. Today, it uses food coloring, which is environmentally safe, to turn the river green. The White House — and many community centers across the country — will dye the water in their fountains green to commemorate the holiday. Hide Caption 7 of 10The <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/13/travel/st-patricks-travel-clodagh-mckenna/index.html">traditional, celebratory Irish meal</a> of St. Patrick's Day is <a href="http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/ACalend/StPatsDay.html" target="_blank">bacon and cabbage</a>. But here in the U.S. and in much of the rest of the world, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated with corned beef. There's even a corned beef and rye sandwich eating contest.The <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/13/travel/st-patricks-travel-clodagh-mckenna/index.html">traditional, celebratory Irish meal</a> of St. Patrick's Day is <a href="http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/ACalend/StPatsDay.html" target="_blank">bacon and cabbage</a>. But here in the U.S. and in much of the rest of the world, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated with corned beef. There's even a corned beef and rye sandwich eating contest. Photos: St. Patrick's Day traditions and cultureThe traditions and culture of St. Patrick's Day – The traditional, celebratory Irish meal of St. Patrick’s Day is bacon and cabbage. But here in the U.S. and in much of the rest of the world, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with corned beef. There’s even a corned beef and rye sandwich eating contest.Hide Caption 8 of 10"Kiss me, I'm Irish" is a phrase many St. Patrick's Day revelers use on the holiday. But Irish people have <a href="http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/irish_am_solidarity.cfm" target="_blank">not always had such a loving reception in this country</a>. When Catholic Irish fled the famine in their country in the mid-1800s and came to the U.S., they were seen by some as poor, uneducated drains on the economy who had the wrong religion. But Catholic Irish immigrants soon became a powerful social group in urban centers, and <a href="http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/is-the-irish-american-vote-still-important-662013-Nov2012/" target="_blank">politicians often sought the support</a> of the "Green machine." "Kiss me, I'm Irish" is a phrase many St. Patrick's Day revelers use on the holiday. But Irish people have <a href="http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/irish_am_solidarity.cfm" target="_blank">not always had such a loving reception in this country</a>. When Catholic Irish fled the famine in their country in the mid-1800s and came to the U.S., they were seen by some as poor, uneducated drains on the economy who had the wrong religion. But Catholic Irish immigrants soon became a powerful social group in urban centers, and <a href="http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/is-the-irish-american-vote-still-important-662013-Nov2012/" target="_blank">politicians often sought the support</a> of the "Green machine." Photos: St. Patrick's Day traditions and cultureThe traditions and culture of St. Patrick's Day – “Kiss me, I’m Irish” is a phrase many St. Patrick’s Day revelers use on the holiday. But Irish people have not always had such a loving reception in this country. When Catholic Irish fled the famine in their country in the mid-1800s and came to the U.S., they were seen by some as poor, uneducated drains on the economy who had the wrong religion. But Catholic Irish immigrants soon became a powerful social group in urban centers, and politicians often sought the support of the “Green machine.” Hide Caption 9 of 10Although St. Patrick's Day is deeply rooted in Christian faith, the secular world has adopted the celebration, much like St. Nicholas as "Santa" or St. Valentine on Valentine's Day. The secular celebration of St. Patrick's day often includes <a href="http://www.leprechaunmuseum.ie/irish-folklore-mythology/" target="_blank">leprechaun</a> imagery. Leprechauns are a part of Ireland's pagan roots, which included belief in many gods and supernatural beings such as fairies. Disney's 1959 film "Darby O'Gill and the Little People" was such a hit in the U.S. that it has <a href="http://irishamerica.com/2011/07/imagining-ireland-with-gabriel-byrne/" target="_blank">strengthened the association of leprechauns with Ireland</a>.Although St. Patrick's Day is deeply rooted in Christian faith, the secular world has adopted the celebration, much like St. Nicholas as "Santa" or St. Valentine on Valentine's Day. The secular celebration of St. Patrick's day often includes <a href="http://www.leprechaunmuseum.ie/irish-folklore-mythology/" target="_blank">leprechaun</a> imagery. Leprechauns are a part of Ireland's pagan roots, which included belief in many gods and supernatural beings such as fairies. Disney's 1959 film "Darby O'Gill and the Little People" was such a hit in the U.S. that it has <a href="http://irishamerica.com/2011/07/imagining-ireland-with-gabriel-byrne/" target="_blank">strengthened the association of leprechauns with Ireland</a>. Photos: St. Patrick's Day traditions and cultureThe traditions and culture of St. Patrick's Day – Although St. Patrick’s Day is deeply rooted in Christian faith, the secular world has adopted the celebration, much like St. Nicholas as “Santa” or St. Valentine on Valentine’s Day. The secular celebration of St. Patrick’s day often includes leprechaun imagery. Leprechauns are a part of Ireland’s pagan roots, which included belief in many gods and supernatural beings such as fairies. Disney’s 1959 film “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” was such a hit in the U.S. that it has strengthened the association of leprechauns with Ireland.Hide Caption 10 of 10Saint PatrickCloverPrayersFeasts and celebrationsWear greenParadesGreen watersTraditional Irish foodKiss me, I'm IrishLeprechaunsSt. Patrick’s Day is primarily celebrated as a religious holiday in Ireland. Banks, stores and businesses shut down for the national holiday. Traditionally, the Irish go to church in the morning and pray for missionaries. Drinking, dancing and music are also part of the festivities later in the day.Most of the US celebrates the occasion as a secular holiday. The first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in America was held in Boston in 1737. Today, there are huge parades in New York City, Chicago and Savannah, Georgia, as well. Although the traditional meal eaten on the holiday in Ireland is lamb or bacon, Irish-Americans eat corned beef and cabbage.Why are there shamrocks everywhere?Legend has it that St. Patrick used a three-leaf clover, otherwise known as a shamrock, to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity to pagans. Shamrocks are also the national flower/emblem of Ireland.Why is everything green?You're supposed to wear green to avoid getting pinched by a leprechaun.You're supposed to wear green to avoid getting pinched by a leprechaun.You’re supposed to wear green to avoid getting pinched by a leprechaun.The original color of St. Patrick’s Day was actually blue. But over time, green won out. The color green is a nod to Ireland’s nickname, the Emerald Isle. Wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day is supposed to prevent you from getting pinched by a leprechaun. Leprechauns are tricky mythical fairies in Irish folklore who like to pinch anyone in sight. However, legend says that wearing green makes you invisible to these feisty creatures.The color is also politically symbolic. Green is associated with the Irish nationalist movement against the English crown in the 1600s. And when Irish immigrants came to America, they wore green to show pride for their home country.

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