St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the anniversary of the saint’s death, which is believed to have been on March 17, 461. For over 1,000 years, the Irish have celebrated this day as a religious holiday. So, how did it all begin?
Recognized as the saint and apostle of Ireland was born in Roman Britain but was kidnapped at the age of 16 to Ireland to be a slave. While he escaped, he returned to Ireland and has been credited for bringing Christianity to the people.
There may be a lot of myth surrounding his life, the most common story associated with him is how he explained the Holy Trinity using the three leaves of the three-leaf clover – the shamrock.
Growth of St. Patrick’s Day
Since about the 9th or 10th century, Ireland has observed the Roman Catholic fest day of St. Patrick on March 17. However, the first parade held to honor St. Patrick’s Day happened in the United States when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City in 1762 on March 17th. It helped the soldiers reconnect with their Irish roots.
Over the following 35 years, Irish patriotism grew among Americans immigrants. “Irish Aid” societies would hold annual parades. In 1848, many Irish Aid societies united their parades to form the official New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Today, it is the world’s oldest civilian parade and the largest in the US.
St. Patrick’s Day Around the World
People around the world celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, especially through the US, Canada, and Australia. It is also celebrated in other locations like Japan, Singapore, and Russia. Until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on March 17. In 1995, the Irish government began a national campaign to use St. Patrick’s Day to drive tourism and showcase Ireland and Irish culture.
To learn more about St. Patrick’s Day, check out the History channel.