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- St. Patrick’s Day
Celebrating the anniversary of a saint’s death has always been a Christian custom. Often these were also known as “feast days”. The Feast of St. Patrick has been celebrated in Ireland since the middle ages.
St. Patrick is said to have died on March 17th, which falls during the Christian fasting season of Lent. But for Irish Catholics, that day was a reprieve from fasting. Irish believers could celebrate their saint with a traditional meal of bacon and potatoes. There might also be dancing and the imbibing of alcohol. All of course, only after attending Mass.
St. Patrick’s day in the America:
The first recorded celebration of St. Patrick’s day was held in Boston, MA, in 1737 by Irish immigrants. The Charitable Irish Society hosted the first St. Patrick’s Day parade. In 1762, the first St. Patrick’s day parade was held in New York City.
It is said that St. Patrick used the 3-leaf shamrock as a metaphor to explain to the Pagan and Druid Irish the concept of the Trinity. Thus, the shamrock became the symbol of St. Patrick’s Day. This symbol, along with Ireland’s verdant landscape became the basis for the greening of this celebration.
At first, men would wear shamrocks in the lapel of their jackets to indicate their faith on St. Patrick’s Day. But when protesters in the United Irish Uprising in 1798 wore shamrocks to emphasize their “Irishness” and solidarity, it became a political statement. Soon, their uniforms were green. “The wearing of the green” was then adopted by Americans in part to show their sympathies with the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.
Today, the Irish still celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as more of a religious holiday similar to Christmas and Easter. To be sure, there are parades and the commercialization of the shamrock symbol, and of course, green beer. But these trappings are more a show for tourism than anything else. As a result. St. Patrick’s Day has become a major tourism draw for the Green Isle.
In the US, many cities across the country hold parades on St. Patrick’s Day. The zenith is of course, the one held in New York City. But other large xities have found their own unique way to honor the saint. Since 1962, Chicago has colored its river water green for the week. But these days, the river flows green for only a few hours.