Saint Patrick’s Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick is a cultural and religious celebration on March 17th each year. This is the day the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick died (AD 385–461). While it is not a legal holiday in the United States, it is certainly recognized and observed throughout our country as a celebration of Irish and Irish American culture.
Celebrations include prominent displays of the color green, eating and drinking green beverages and food, religious observances, and parades. For instance, in Chicago, Irish magic (a.k.a. 40 pounds of EPA-approved dye) turns the river kelly green while bagpipers, horses, and Irish dancers parade their way through Grant Park.
In Dublin, the St. Patrick’s Festival is a four-day celebration of Irish culture. The signature parade begins at noon from Parnell Square, continuing past Trinity College and ends near St. Patrick’s Cathedral. About a half million merrymakers are known to line the 1.6-mile route.
Here are some other facts to get you in the spirit of the celebrations:
- St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated on the North American continent since the late eighteenth century.
- The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in the United States on March 17, 1762, when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City.
- St. Patrick was actually born in Britain and lived there until he was a teenager.
- The three-leaved shamrock symbolizes the meaning of the teachings of the Holy Trinity.
- Céilí (kay-lee) is a traditional Irish social dance and is performed with two to sixteen dancers.
- There are 34.7 million U.S. residents with Irish ancestry. No wonder there are so many fun celebrations on March 17th in the United States each year!
- Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional Irish and St. Patrick’s Day dish. In 2009, approximately 26.1 billion pounds of beef and 2.3 billion pounds of cabbage were produced in the United States. Billion! That’s a lot of good food.
- Why green? Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle, and green is chosen from the color of the landscape itself.
For more about celebration plans and good Irish food, check out the pub scene this year on St. Patrick’s Day. Contact us for more information.