St. Patrick’s Day
Who is St. Patrick and why does the world celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
St. Patrick is one of Ireland’s patron saint and he is the most recognized of them. He spent much of his life building places of worships and converting pagans to Christianity all across Ireland. March 17 is the anniversary of his death. Every year, on the day, March 17 is celebrated to honor his accomplishments and mark the day that he was allowed entry to Heaven.
In March 17, 1762, Irish soldiers serving in the English Army who were based in New York decided to parade around New York City to help them connect with their Irish roots as well as their fellow Irishmen. This event kicked off a tradition that holds up to this day and it served to make St. Patrick’s day a patriotic event much as it is a secular celebration, hence the inclusion of much Irish symbols like the shamrock, the color green, leprechauns and the traditional meal of cabbage and corned beef.
The traditional meal of cabbage and corned beef is originally cabbage and Irish bacon. Cabbage is a staple of the Irish diet and corned beef is an alternative of the Irish Americans who, at the time of the depression, could not afford the bacon.
All over the world, from Ireland to the Irish Diaspora in the US and Canada to Japan, St. Patrick’s day is celebrated with much revelry and festivities, by the Irish, Irish descents and Irish at heart.
In the US:
Chicago has a massive Irish population. Every year, on the Saturday nearest the actual date of St. Patrick’s, which is March 17, the event is kicked off by dying the Chicago River with 40 pounds of green vegetable dye. The site is spectacular and can be viewed from any of the bridges. This has been dubbed “The Irish Miracle”. St. Patrick’s parade then commences in Grant Park, the city’s “front yard”. The St.
Patrick’s Day parade is the biggest parade in the city and includes thousands of attendees including bagpipers, marchers and bands.
Green is what you will be seeing all over Philadelphia starting from the Sunday prior to St. Patrick’s. Everything green: beer, liquor, coffee, ice cream, hats, clothes and many more! Before the merriment, the event starts with a mass at St. Patrick’s church; it then followed by St. Patrick’s Day parade commencing on that same day and then other activities to celebrate Irish patriotism with a wide display of the richness and diversity of Irish culture.
A city with a very proud Irish heritage is Boston. Celebrated with so much fervor, Boston is second to Ireland in enthusiasm in regard to its St. Patrick’s Day celebration. If you want to really experience St. Patrick’s Day and cannot get to Ireland, Boston, a truly Irish city is your best alternative. Boston will also being seeing green on this day, and like Chicago River, Charles River will be dyed green for the occasion. South Boston is the most Irish part (best view is from Broadway). Witness marvelous floats amongst marchers, marching bands, bagpipers and bands flown in from all over the United States. The parade is followed by evening celebrations and feasts. All over Boston are other celebrations too. After St. Patrick’s the Irish revelry will not pass so soon; other events like the Irish Film Festival will soon follow.
New York is where it all started. On the actual date, New York honors the day with a celebration free from any commercial sentiments. True to the patriotic and religious spirit of St. Patrick, 5th Avenue fills with hundreds of thousands of marchers dressed in green finery. The parade consists of a mélange of people from bands, military and police groups to county associations, emigrant societies, social and cultural clubs. The celebration is strongly anti-commercialism and you will find no extravagant floats, cars or any form of advertising; the true spirit of the celebration adds to its appeal and it has been regarded as one of the world’s best.
A large population of Quebecois is of Irish Ancestry due to a large wave of Irish Immigrants arriving in Montreal in the 1840s. Since 1824, they started celebrating yearly death anniversary of St. Patrick. Today, the celebrations attract international tourists as they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as a religious event, a patriotic event as well as a welcome celebration for spring. The parade is led by a gigantic replica of St. Patrick giving his benediction to the people. St. Patrick is accompanied by live bands, cultural groups, extravagant floats and people in costumes gathered round in the heart of Montreal in a vibrant parade that lasts for three hours.
How best to celebrate St. Patrick but with the Irish? Before 1995 the Irish in Ireland celebrated the day solemnly. St Patrick’s Day remained a secular event and pubs were closed down. But in 1995, the Irish government decided to make the day an opportunity to showcase Ireland and Irish culture to the world and has re-titled the event as St. Patrick’s Festival. Dublin, Ireland painst the twon green as it rolls out the green carpet in a spirited celebration of music, street theater, comedy, outdoor revelry, dancing, art and all else merry for the country’s largest celebration. The festival is kicked off with a parade on the 17th. The people dress up in their green finery, the town is decorated with shamrocks and the leprechauns come out to play joining the merry Irish in lots of drinking and free fun in one of the world’s greatest celebration.