Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Throughout the United States, parades fill city streets and people celebrate the cultural heritage of the Emerald Isle. It is a time of great festivity, with roots that stretch back several centuries.
Here are a few interesting facts surrounding this wonderful occasion:
1) St. Patrick’s Day was founded in 1631 by the church to commemorate St. Patrick, known as the Patron Saint of Ireland (who passed away during the 5th century). St. Patrick was born as a Roman British citizen, but he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. After making his escape, he later returned to Ireland and is credited with spreading Christianity there.
2) Legends say that St. Patrick used a Shamrock, or a three-leaf clover, to illustrate the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Consequently, legends also say he was responsible for driving out all the snakes from Ireland, but there has never been any concrete evidence that snakes existed there.
3) One reason a meal of bacon and cabbage became traditional on St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland was due in part to the fact that the celebration took place during Lent. Participants reportedly went to church services in the morning, had permission indulge in meat (which they usually had to abstain from for Lent), and partied well into the evenings. A variation on it, corned beef and cabbage, became popular to eat on St. Patrick’s Day in America.
4) New York City held the first major St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 1762, when homesick Irish soldiers decided to hold a parade in the city streets, and St. Patrick’s Day parades spread rapidly and have only grown more and more each year ever since then. Although there is also evidence of a parade held in 1601, in St. Augustine, Florida, when it was still a Spanish colony.
5) Chicago has turned its Chicago River green for a week to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day ever since 1962, when city workers from the Chicago Journeyman Plumbers Union reportedly poured 100 pounds of green dye into the river on the orders of the mayor, Richard Daley. The city originally used the green dye to help detect sources of pollution in the waterways throughout Chicago, but nowadays it’s just a fun way to show some pride on St. Patrick’s Day and amaze visitors and residents alike.