For most, wearing the color green and pinching those who don’t, and going to parties and drinking massive amounts of beer are generally the activities most associated with the day that comes in the middle of March every year.
Those who actually live in Ireland observe St. Patrick’s Day as a religious holiday like America celebrates Christmas or Easter with huge parades, banquets, theater, fireworks and Mass.
Actually, until the 1970s, Ireland laws required that all bars be closed on March 17, according to history.com.
According to theholidayspot.com, St. Patrick wasn’t born Irish, but he is an important part of history because of his service throughout Ireland in the 5th century.
St. Patrick grew up in Britain as the son of army officer Calpurnius.
One day, a ship of pirates kidnapped Patrick when he was 16, along with several other children, and sold them into slavery in Ireland.
After being imprisoned for six years, according to myth, Patrick said God told him to escape with a ship. From there, he went back to Britain and then to France.
Patrick entered into a monastery and spent 12 years in training there and eventually became a bishop.
A vision came to him about going to Ireland to share about God. While in Ireland, he converted numerous pagans to Christianity and through this he made connections with several royal families.
During his time in Ireland, he also founded many churches and schools.
Patrick’s autobiography, the “Confessio,” is the most important document regarding what he did during his time in Ireland.
Patrick died on March 17, A.D. 461, which explains the reason why St. Patrick’s Day falls on this day every year.
According to legend, Patrick is said to have used the shamrock to describe the Trinity: the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. Scholars also suggest shamrocks may also represent a symbol for the triple goddess Brigit.
According to history.com, when the Great Potato Famine struck Ireland in 1849 many Irish people came to America. They weren’t respected because of their religious beliefs and “funny” accents so they were unable to find decent jobs. In newspapers, they were often depicted as being violent and drunk constantly.
The Irish population in America began to take even more pride in the symbolism of the day after President Harry Truman made an appearance at the parade in 1998. For many of the Irish, it showed that they overcame prejudice and stereotypes.
Ireland during St. Patrick’s Day
Dublin organizes a festival that runs from March 15 through March 19, which includes: carnivals, treasure hunts, dances and theater.
In 1995, the Irish government used this holiday for tourism in Ireland. Last year, nearly one million people took part in the festivities.
According to the parenting Web site Kaboose’s, on St. Patrick’s Day, people generally wear small bunches of shamrocks on their jackets and hats. Children wear white, green and orange badges, which are the colors of the Irish flag. And on this day, women wear green ribbons in their hair.
According to the Irish Central Web site, due to the shamrock shortage in Ireland this year, four leaf clovers will be hard to find because their growth has been delayed because of a harsh winter in Ireland.
Every St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish prime minister comes to America to present the president with a shamrock.
America during St. Patrick’s Day
According to history.com, the first St. Patrick’s parade didn’t actually take place in Ireland but was in New York on March 17, 1762. The English military walked through the streets on this day to help them to reconnect with their Irish roots.
The parade is now 1.5 miles long which takes about five hours. Nearly 150,000 people come to watch and participate in the celebration.
The tradition of Chicago turning its river green started in 1962 when they poured 100 pounds of green vegetable dye which kept it green for a week. Now, they pour 40 pounds of dye into the river, keeping it green for just a few hours.