A St. Patrick’s day history

You’ve probably seen all the leprechauns and four leaf clovers popping up in stores the past couple weeks- it’s once again time for St. Patrick’s day. Maybe you celebrate this Irish holiday every year, or just appreciate the color green. But, do you  know what this day is actually celebrating?

St. Patrick’s day is celebrated annually March 17, the day of St. Patrick’s death. St. Patrick is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. It’s said he used three leaf clovers to explain the Holy Trinity (father, son, and holy spirit), hence why shamrocks are such a big symbol for the holiday. It falls during the Christian season of Lent, but all Lenton prohibitions against the consumption of meat would be lifted for the day so people could properly celebrate. Irish families would go to church in the morning, and then party all afternoon. People would dance, drink, and feast on a traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

So, why is this holiday celebrated so much here in America? Well, in the late 1700s Irish patriotism among Irish American citizens flourished. However, the Irish American population was being discriminated against. Loathed for their unfamiliar religious beliefs and accents, it was nearly impossible for them to find jobs.  “Irish aid” societies began rising, such as the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian society. Each would hold their own annual parades until 1848, when several New York societies decided to join their parades together. Thus, the New York City St. Patrick’ day parade was born.

At first these parades were mocked by most Americans- newspapers portrayed the Irish as drunk and violent. Then, they discovered the Irish held a lot of power in their numbers politically. Soon, the annual St. Patrick’s day parades and celebrations were looked at in a better light. They were seen as a show of strength for Irish Americans, and a must attend event for any political candidate.

Although the parties may look a bit different, the legacy of the early Irish immigrants still live on today. In almost every store you’ll find St. Patricks day decorations; cities, bars, and restaurants all over the US have celebrations. It’s a time to celebrate the Irish finding Christianity. And even if you don’t celebrate this holiday, it’s still a great excuse to get out and have fun!

 

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