St Patrick’s Day


Faith Smith, Community

Saint Patrick’s Day observes the death of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The holiday has since evolved into a celebration of Irish culture with parades, special foods, music, dancing, and a whole lot of green. Although there was a feast dedicated to the Saint during the ninth or tenth century, the first Saint Patrick’s Day parade wasn’t held until 1601 in a Spanish colony in what is now St. Augustine, Florida.

Saint Patrick lived in the fifth century and was born in Roman-occupied Britain. At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a slave. At some point, while he was in Ireland, he either escaped or was set free and traveled to a monastery in Gaul (now Western Europe) and converted to Christianity. He went back to Ireland as a missionary and is credited with bringing Christianity to many of its people. Patrick became a bishop and was named the Patron Saint of Ireland after his death. He is rumored to have died on March 17, 461 AD.

In 1789, the year of the Irish rebellion, the color green officially became associated with Saint Patrick’s Day. Originally the color was blue since it was seen on older Irish flags. However, because the British wore red during the rebellion, the Irish chose to wear green and sang the song, “The Wearing of the Green.” Following this, the color green became more important in Irish history.

During the Great Potato Famine in 1845, nearly one million Irish immigrated to America to escape starvation. Alienized by others for their religious beliefs and unfamiliar accents, the immigrants had trouble even finding blue-collar jobs. When Irish Americans in the country’s cities took to the streets on Saint Patrick’s Day to celebrate their heritage, newspapers portrayed them in cartoons as drunk, violent monkeys. The American Irish soon realized that their growing numbers gave them some amount of political power. They started to organize, and their voting bloc, known as the “green machine,” became an important swing vote for political hopefuls. Suddenly Saint Patrick’s Day parades became a show of Irish strength and a very important event for political candidates.

The largest Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations were held by Irish immigrants but soon many others decided to celebrate as well. Homesick Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched in New York City on March 17, 1772, to honor the Irish patron saint. Enthusiasm for the Saint Patrick’s Day parades in New York City, Boston, and other early American cities only grew from there. In 1848, several New York Irish Aid societies decided to unite their parades to form one official New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. Today, that parade is the world’s oldest civilian parade and the largest in the United States, with over 150,000 participants. Each year, nearly 3 million people line the 1.5-mile parade route to watch the procession, which takes more than five hours.

Saint Patrick’s Day has a lengthy and not commonly known history but has been enthusiastically celebrated for centuries. The fun holiday honors the patron saint of Ireland and celebrates Irish culture.


Sources “St. Patrick’s Day: Origins, Meaning & Background – History.”,

“The Origins of St. Patrick’s Day.” Georgia Public Broadcasting,

Ross, Ashley. “St. Patrick’s Day and The True Story of Saint Patrick.” Time, Time, 29 Apr. 2021,,the%20holiday%20was%20first%20 observed