St. Patrick’s Day began as feast day in the 17th century in observance of the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. But did you know that St. Patrick wasn’t Irish? He was born in Britain, then part of the Roman Empire, captured and imprisoned by Irish when he was 16. He later went back to Ireland and spent his remaining years as a Christian missionary. He died on March 17, 461.
Tradition of Wearing Green and Parades
Why is green associated with being Irish? St. Patrick used the green shamrock to explain the trinity. Ultimately, it became a symbol of Irish Catholic nationalism and Irish people would pin a green shamrock to their clothes to show their support. Over time, the color green became associated with Irish pride.
While Ireland held annual festivals, the tradition of parades to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day actually began in America and not in Ireland.
Today, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into a variety of festivals and parades across the globe celebrating Irish culture with food, music, dancing, and a whole lot of green. Green beer included.
Fun Facts About St. Patricks’ Day in the U.S.
- There are more people with Irish ancestry living in the United States than the population of Ireland itself – over 32 million people claim Irish ancestry.
- Irish ancestry is the second most reported ancestry; German is the first.
- Ireland ranks in the top five ancestries in every state except Hawaii and New Mexico.
- Sixteen cities in the U.S. share the name of Ireland’s capital city, Dublin.
- There are about 450 churches in the United States named after St. Patrick, the most famous possibly being the St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC.
- Corned beef and cabbage is not a traditional Irish meal. Irish stew and soda bread were considered the traditional food to celebrate the day. It is thought that corned beef and cabbage became popular in the U.S. because they were cheaper and therefore more affordable for Irish immigrants.
- The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in the U.S. took place on March 17, 1762 in New York City when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through the streets to a local tavern. Today, New York City hosts the longest and largest parade with close to 200,000 participants and two million spectators.
- However, there are some who argue that the first parade actually took place in Boston in 1737. Whichever is true, Boston still puts on an impressive parade, the second largest to New York, with over 600,000 spectators. (Boston also boasts the most Irish pubs than any other U.S. city.)
- Chicago will celebrate 62 years of parades and dyeing its river green in 2017. Originally green dye was used to detect leaks in the river, but it was determined the color was the perfect “Irish green” and so the tradition of dying the river began. It takes about 40 pounds of dye to color the river.
- According to WalletHub, 5.3 billion dollars will be spent this year by the approximately 56% of Americans who plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
If you are one of the many who will be celebrating this year’s St. Patrick’s Day, take along a Pocket Wi-Fi device so that you can easily and securely connect to the internet – and quickly upload all the video and pictures you will be taking!