May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
–An Irish Toast
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17th, the traditional religious feast day of St. Patrick and the day he is believed to have died in 460 A.D. The Irish have observed this religious holiday for thousands of years.
But, how did we come to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the United States?
The history of St Patrick’s Day in America, however, begins with Irish soldiers serving in the British army. Befitting of the Irish, it is a tale of Irish patriotism and evolving political power. That very first parade in New York City not only helped the homesick Irish soldiers connect with their roots through the familiar strains of traditional Irish music, usually featuring bagpipes and drums, but also helped them to connect with one another, finding strength in numbers.
Over the years as nearly a million Irish immigrants fled to America in the wake of the Great Potato Famine, St Patrick’s Day parades became a display of solidarity and political strength as these often ridiculed Irish immigrants were frequently victims of prejudice. Soon enough, their numbers were recognized and the Irish soon organized and exerted their political muscle, becoming known as the “green machine”.
Today, St Patrick’s Day celebrations abound. Decidedly less religious, St Patrick’s Day celebrations continue to be a show of Irish strength and patriotism. So, get out, show your green and get ready to celebrate!
References: History St. Patrick’s Day | History.com
Bonjour St. Patrick’s Day! 🙂