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St Patrick's Day: The poisonous history of green beer, how it shifted from toxic threat to tasty tradition

This St. Patrick's Day, embark on a journey through the history of the holiday, exploring its roots in Irish culture and the evolution of its celebrations.

St. Patrick's Day is a worldwide celebration of Irish culture and religious traditions, marked by festivities and parties. In the United States, this includes lively parades and indulging in green beverages and cuisine.

Observing St. Patrick's Day tradition isn't about raising any beer, however, but enjoying a drink that has been specially dyed green. 

While this practice is now commonplace, the history of green beer is more intriguing than most may think. 

FACTS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT ST PATRICK’S DAY

The technology responsible for turning beer green has evolved significantly since its inception.

The tradition of drinking green beer was started by a man named Dr. Thomas Hayes Curtin in 1914, Irish Central reports. 

Curtin, an Irish immigrant, worked professionally as a coroner in New York City at the time.

As the story goes, he first unveiled his green beer at a Bronx social club. A witness reportedly said that when the beer was unveiled, everything at the club was decorated green and that Irish songs were sung.

The only thing that was not green, apparently, was the glass in which the beer was served.

At the time, the doctor would apparently only admit to adding a drop of "wash blue" to an unspecified amount of beer in order to turn it green. 

It was eventually revealed that the "wash blue" was actually an iron powder solution used to wash laundry. 

This substance was poisonous to humans.

Fortunately, technology has advanced far enough since that everyone can enjoy a green-colored beer without ingesting iron poison. Making green beer is as simple as putting several drops of green food coloring in a glass and then adding the beer, the Betty Crocker site says.

The cooking website cautions that it's important to put the food coloring in the glass first to correctly color the brew.

In the realm of typical St. Patrick's Day beverages, Guinness often takes the spotlight. 

ST PATRICK'S DAY: THE BIGGEST PARTIES ACROSS UNITED STATES TO CELEBRATE LUCK OF THE IRISH

St. Patrick's Day has evolved into a global celebration, and Guinness plays a significant role in bringing people together. Its availability worldwide allows people of all backgrounds to partake in the Irish festivities, even if just for a day.

Guinness is merely one among an assortment of beers originating from Ireland and each deserves a moment of appreciation during this St. Patrick's Day celebration.

As the familiar saying goes, "Sláinte!" — a heartfelt toast to health and happiness often accompanied by a satisfying sip of the iconic black and tan.

Green is the most recognizable color for St. Patrick’s Day festivities, most notably green clothing.

ST PATRICK'S DAY: THE HISTORY BEHIND THE HOLIDAY IN THE UNITED STATES

A major reason green is so prominent during this holiday originates from Ireland's nickname, the Emerald Isle. The Irish national flag has a green stripe representing the Catholic heritage common on the island as well.

Legend has it that St. Patrick himself introduced Christianity’s Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish with the three leaves of a green shamrock (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). 

However, the wearing of green is based more on folktales than religious symbolism

In Irish mythology, leprechauns are mischievous, small, bearded men dressed in top hats and coats who keep their pots of gold at the end of rainbows. 

They are typically dressed in all green and will pinch anyone not wearing the color.

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According to legend, if you want to avoid getting pinched by a mystical elf, or your friends, you should wear green on March 17.

The side effects of drinking green beer are the same as that of regular beer. 

The green color commonly found in beer on St. Patrick's Day is generally made up of harmless, plant-derived food coloring that has no discernible side effects on the consumer.

However, the side effects from drinking beer overall include high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease and digestive issues, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

St. Patrick's Day is considered one of the biggest beer consumption days of the year in the United States.

The exact number of green beers consumed each year is not known, but 13 million pints of the popular Irish dry stout brand Guinness are estimated to be consumed during the holiday festivities, according to Business Insider.

Michael Hollan and Phillip Nieto contributed reporting.

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.

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