The history of St. Patrick’s Day


BUCKHANNON — St. Patrick’s Day is observed annually on March 17 to honor the anniversary of the patron saints of Ireland’s death. Saint Patrick lived during the fifth century and he is most known for escaping enslavement and bringing Christianity to the people of Ireland.

According to History.com, “In the centuries following Patrick’s death (believed to have been on March 17, 461), the mythology surrounding his life became ever more ingrained in the Irish culture: Perhaps the most well-known legend of St. Patrick is that he explained the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) using the three leaves of a native Irish clover, the shamrock.”

Surprisingly despite the Irish history, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in America on March 17, 1601. History.com revealed that enthusiasm grew and parades continued nearly a century later, often held in large cities such as New York City and Boston.

Irish immigrants started to arrive in American following the Great Potato Famine in Ireland in 1845. Irish immigrants were often ridiculed for their beliefs and unfamiliar accents. They often had trouble finding work in America. However, with the realization of their large number growing in America, they started the “green machine,” a voting bloc. The annual St. Patrick’s Day parades then became an important event for showing Irish-American’s strength.

Information obtained from History.com showed that, in 1948, President Harry S. Truman attended the St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City. Making it a turning point for Irish-Americans as they became recognized and accepted.

With that acceptance, Irish culture began to expand throughout the United States. Many Irish foods are made to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, including Irish soda bread, colcannon and corned beef. In the United States, people also wear green. Wearing green became popular from an Irish tradition based on Celtic folklore. Wearing green makes one invisible to leprechauns, which can pinch anyone they see. Leprechauns are also celebrated annually on May 13. However, it is not the only reason people wear green. According to National Geographic, blue was the original color, as Ireland was initially considered part of Britain. Ireland separated themselves from Britain and chose green, as a sign of their rebellion and representation of their landscape.

According to thefactfile.org, “St Patrick’s Day is not celebrated on March 17 when it falls within the Holy Week… This once happened when the day coincided with Palm Sunday in 1940 and then again in 2008. The celebration of the Day is adjusted in such a scenario. In 1940 it was observed on 3 April and in 2008 it was observed on 15 March. Now until 2160, St Patrick’s Day will not fall under the Holy Week.”

For further details on local celebrations of Irish culture, see our Saturday, March 12 edition of The Record Delta featuring an article on the Irish Spring Festival in Ireland, W. Va. The festival will continue through Sunday, March 20.

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