It's time to rifle through your closet and get out your green! March 17 and St. Patrick's Day looms once again, and this massive celebration of Irish-American culture in the U.S. is one of the most anticipated holidays of the year. That wasn't always the case, however. Here is what you need to know about the origins of this famed U.S. holiday, some of our most popular St. Patrick's Day celebrations, and how you can bring some authentic Irish fun into your gathering.
St. Patrick's Day History
Believe it or not, St. Patrick wasn't even Irish. He was a British nobleman kidnapped by Irish pirates just after 400 A.D. He spent 17 years as a slave and escaped Ireland but decided to return to the country as a missionary. It is widely believed that March 17 commemorates the date of his death.
Saint Patrick's Day has been an official Christian holiday since the 17th century, called "the Day of the Festival of Patrick." The day wasn't even marked as a public holiday in Ireland until 1904. Now, St. Patrick's Day has grown into a four-day festival in Dublin, much of which has been influenced by the way the Americans celebrate the holiday.
St. Patrick's Day has been celebrated in the U.S. since a group of Irish settlers held the first small gathering in Boston in 1737. The "parade" tradition began soon after, amongst Irish Catholic members of the British Army in New York in 1766. By the end of the 19th century, the number of Irish immigrants to the U.S. had swelled, and there were parades and major celebrations in cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and even Savannah.
Popular St. Patrick's Day Celebrations
As generations of Irish immigrants celebrated their heritage each year with zeal, their enthusiasm was catching. Today, there are St. Patrick's Day celebrations in most major cities and even small towns throughout America.
One of the nation's largest and most popular St. Patrick's Day parades is in Boston, where more than 13% of the population identifies as Irish. Pittsburgh's parade boasts more than 20,000 participants each year and also has a large Irish population. For a fun sight, check out Chicago's parade, where the city dyes the Chicago River green each year in honor of the holiday.
Everyone's Irish on March 17
Whether you come from Irish roots or not, March 17 is the perfect day to embrace your inner leprechaun and celebrate what's become a national pastime. It is a tradition on March 17 to wear green clothing and accessories. If you can find something that is Shamrock-adorned, all the better. Legend has it that St. Patrick used the three-leaf shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity.
There are other St. Patrick's Day traditions that you can bring to your home, office, or gathering. Serve corned beef and cabbage and be sure to have plenty of Guinness or green beer on tap. Having an office party or family celebration? Hold a contest for the best St. Patrick's Day costume or have some responsible drinking games.
Celebrate and have fun this holiday but don't forget the designated driver! Have a happy and safe St. Patrick's Day from the team at IntelliQuote!
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