The history of Saint Patrick’s Day has its origins in the Catholic religion. Although St. Patrick is the most widely recognized, he is one of many patron saints of Ireland. In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a religious day of feasting. Much like a federal holiday in the United States, banks, shops, and businesses are all closed on March 17th in Ireland.
Although St. Patrick was born in Britain and the very first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York in 1762, the holiday has become a general celebration of all things Irish. Until 1931 Ireland mostly celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by attending church and enjoying the traditional and now infamous “St. Paddy’s meal” of corned beef and cabbage.
The Wearing of the Green
Wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day is a worldwide tradition, despite the fact that the color blue was most often associated with Saint Patrick. There is even a sky blue shade called ‘Saint Patrick blue’. The term ‘the wearing of the green’ came from Saint Patrick himself, using the shamrock to explain the holy trinity to Irish who didn’t subscribe to Christianity.
In America, the green of St. Patrick’s Day is taken to a level the Irish couldn’t have imagined. The city of Chicago has dyed the river green since the 1960’s. Cities in Georgia, Indiana, Washington, Missouri and South Carolina commemorate St. Patrick’s Day by dying or painting parts of the city green.
St. Patrick’s Day partygoers celebrate by finding creative ways to wear green. Whether it’s leprechaun costumes, giant four-leaf clovers, or “kiss me, I’m Irish” t-shirts, wearing green creatively is appreciated. Plastic green hats or green glitter hats are common headgear on St. Paddy’s Day. The costume theme of St. Patrick’s Day is: green, green, and a little more green.
Around the world green beer is a popular choice on St. Patrick’s Day to wash down your corned beef & cabbage!
Out of Ireland
People from around the world look forward to March 17th to celebrate their genuine or honorary Irish-ness. From eating a traditional Irish meal and drinking green beer to wearing green in the most imaginative ways, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in Japan, Argentina, New Zealand, and Canada even though it is only a provincial holiday there.
The United States has been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in a big way since 1762. Irish soldiers on duty for the colonial army of Britain held a parade to celebrate their Irish heritage on March 17.
Parades are held around the world to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day, with bagpipes and kilts as the most worn outfit of the day. Whether you’re of Irish descent or just wish you were, St. Patrick’s Day has become a secular holiday where all are allowed to join in the festivities.
The popularity of St. Patrick’s Day in the United States prompted the Irish government to begin celebrating a little more…vigorously. In 1995, the government underwent a national movement to make the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day a truly Irish affair. Not to be outdone, Ireland now celebrates the holiday as a weeklong festival with food, music, dancing and a general celebration of being well, Irish.