One Day We Are ALL Irish!
Julia @ Kids Matter
One day a year, March 17th, we are ALL Irish. That is St. Patrick’s Day; a fun, festive day when, if not festooned with green, you may get pinched. But, what is the history of this holiday? Who was Saint Patrick? Are the legends true? Did he really rid the Emerald Isle of Snakes?!
Actually no, that is not why we celebrate the official Apostle of Ireland. He is celebrated for bringing the Catholic Church to Ireland and teaching his faith using the three sided clover as a visual aid. The clover is still the country’s official flower.
His death on March 17th, 461 A.D. is the day we celebrate to this day. But, how did the Irish in the first century celebrate compared to how we celebrate today? The Irish would attend services in the morning. They then had celebrations feasting on bacon and cabbage, then dancing and singing well into the night! There were no parades, no wearing of green, or cheering lads with a pint of green beer! Those traditions didn’t come until much later and were initiated by Irish immigrants in America.
The first celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day in America was in the early days of the thirteen colonies. It was organized by The Charitable Irish Society of Boston. The society's purpose for gathering was simply to honor its homeland; however, they also coordinated charitable works for the Irish community in Boston. They attended services and had a special dinner later that night. These celebrations were very similar to the traditions of the ‘Old Country’.
The first St. Patrick’s Day parade occurred in New York City in 1762, when Irish soldiers, serving in the English Army, marched the American streets reconnecting to their Irish roots. This act inspired all those of Irish blood to participate. Today, it is not only the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade, but also the largest parade period in the world, hosting 150,000 people and taking five hours to complete! Other major cities that have large Irish populations such as, Savannah, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia have parades of upwards to 50,000 participants each year.
In Chicago, they dye their river GREEN, with vegetable dye! It is the most fantastic shade of green and lasts for several hours. As you can see from the picture above, it’s amazing! As part of the Washington D.C. celebration, the White House also dyes its front fountain green.
So, join me and thousands of others this Saint Patrick’s Day. Put on your best green shirt and dance a jig to celebrate the life of one of the most beloved Saints in the world!
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