Ah,yes. Once again it’s St. Paddy’s day, a foine, foine day fer the wearin’ ‘o tha green! And ya know me foine lads and lassie’s, Oi can say that with a really bad Barry Fitzgerald accent, ’cause Oive, got a bit o’ the ole green sod running through me veins! Me grandmother’s name was Margaret Fitzgerald. That probably accounts for me having ta have two open hart surgeries. That green sod sure can clog up yer caranary system quicker than a Leprechaun jumpin’ in ol’ widow O’Brien’s lap after partakin’ a few snarts ‘o Old Bushmill’s foinest!
Who doesn’t love the Irish? They gave us Leprechauns, shamrocks, Old Bushmill’s Irish Liquor, and of course dear old St. Patrick, the man who chased the snakes out of Ireland. Well, at least according to legend; truth is, Ireland never had any snakes to chase away! Also, he wasn’t from Ireland. He was of Romano-British birth meaning he was from England. But who cares where he was from. He’s the reason that of lot of Irishmen, and others not of Irish descent, set aside one day a year to drink green beer and wear tee shirts that say “Kiss Me, I’m Irish!”
TRADITIONS ASSOCIATED WITH MARCH 17th
With the above in mind, I thought that I’d take a look at some traditions associated with the feast day of St. Patrick.
“St. Patrick’s Day was basically invented in America by Irish-Americans.”
Irish-American history expert Timothy Meagher said Irish charitable organizations originally celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with banquets in places such as Boston, Massachusetts; Savannah, Georgia; and Charleston, South Carolina.
Eighteenth-century Irish soldiers fighting with the British in the U.S. Revolutionary War held the first St. Patrick’s Day parades. Some soldiers, for example, marched through New York City in 1762 to reconnect with their Irish roots.
Other parades followed in the years and decades after, including well-known celebrations in Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago, primarily in flourishing Irish immigrant communities.
“It becomes a way to honor the saint but also to confirm ethnic identity and to create bonds of solidarity,” said Meagher, of Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
NEW YAWK, NEW YAWK
Since the festive day falls on a Sunday this year, the annual parade will be held on Saturday the 16th. The first official St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City was held in 1766 by Irish military men serving in the American colonies. The parade goes up 5th Avenue from 44th to 79th Streets. Despite not allowing floats, autos or exhibits, there are over 150,000 marchers every year.
Until the 1970s, St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland was a minor religious holiday. A priest would acknowledge the feast day, and families would celebrate with a big meal, but that was about it.
Even though the city was settled by the French, ceded to the Spanish then given back to the French, there is a huge Irish population living there. Back around the early 1800’s to the beginning of the 20th century, Irish immigrants began pouring into the Crescent City for a number of reasons. Many of them settled into an area in the vicinity of the Garden District called the “Irish Channel”.
So naturally this is where most of the activity takes place on March 17th. Since New Orleans is well known for it’s celebration of Mardi Gras, it stands to reason that it would give as much attention to the patron saint of Erin. And it does. Again, “lots ‘o green beer is consumed in the celebration” as well as numerous parades in and around the area.
Probably one of the best known traditions relating to St. Patrick’s day takes place in the city of Chicago, IL. There they fill the Chicago River with green dye. Just like the recipe for Coca Cola, it’s a closely guarded secret! But seriously, the formula has been thoroughly tested by independent chemists and has been proven safe for the environment.
Unlike other cities, the Parade always occurs on a Saturday. If Saint Patrick’s Day does not fall on a Saturday, the Parade is held the Saturday before. This year’s Parade will be on Saint Patrick’s Day, Saturday, March 16th 2013. The Parade always steps off at noon.
What about parade cancellation? Never! Snow, rain or arctic cold, the parade goes on no matter what.
Savannah’s Irish connection goes back to the founding of the Georgia colony, a legacy that is honored by a month-long celebration in the coastal city that loves a good time. Groups of Irish were among the diverse group of folks who helped colonize Georgia, so Savannah has a long connection to Ireland. The Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee says the city’s first parade honoring the Irish saint was held in 1813, and it has grown to what is considered the second largest parade in the U.S., behind only New York City. It lasts 3½ hours and attracts about 1 million people, and with the holiday falling on a weekend this year, Savannah’s party might leave other cities green with envy.
On any given day 5.5 million pints of Guinness, the famous Irish stout brand, are consumed around the world.
But on St. Patrick’s Day, that number more than doubles to 13 million pints, said Beth Davies Ryan, global corporate-relations director of Guinness.
Well there you have it. A bird’s-eye view of one of our most beloved Saints and his very own holiday. Whether you are Catholic or not, Irish or not you really should wear green on March 17th, otherwise if I see you, I’ll pinch you. Top ‘o the day to yah now!
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