Saint Patrick's Day
Celebrating Irish Heritage
March 17, 2014 by Jake Butler
Although it's not officially recognized as a national holiday here in the United States, Saint Patrick's Day is still widely observed as a celebration of Irish culture and religious tradition. We hope you're ready to put on something green, hold tight to your shamrocks and celebrate all things Irish.
A Little History
Saint Patrick's story dates all the way back to fifth century Britain, where he was born to wealthy Christian parents. During a raid on the family's estate when he was 16 years old, a group of Irish mercenaries kidnapped him and sold him into slavery. He spent six years in Ireland working as a shepherd. During that time he learned Gaelic and became a devout Christian as he struggled through the hardship.
According to his writings, he had a dream where the voice of God told him it was time to flee captivity. So he traveled to the coast and boarded a ship to return to Britain. He would later return to Ireland as a bishop to spread the message of Christianity.
One of his teaching methods, according to Irish folklore, involved using a shamrock to explain the idea of the Holy Trinity to the natives. The three leaves each represent the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but they are all connected to the same stem. Coupled with the idea of rejuvenation from the spring season, this is why the shamrock and the color green are so strongly associated with Saint Patrick's Day.
Service Members in Parades
Lots of cities around the country host parades to celebrate the occasion, many of which feature appearances from local military units. This is a tradition that dates back hundreds of years to the first Saint Patrick's Day parade on March 17, 1762 in New York City, created by Irish soldiers serving in the British army. As the years went on, more parades sprung up all around the city until they were consolidated in 1848 into a single celebration that now attracts hundreds of thousands of participants and spectators every year.
Many other cities like Boston, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and San Diego have time-honored traditions when it comes to parades and celebrations, but perhaps Chicago stands out the most. The city is famous for dying the Chicago River green on Saint Patrick's Day, a tradition that's been going strong since the 1960s. It's truly a sight to behold if you're ever in the city on March 17th.
Wherever you are, we hope you get to celebrate the holiday with a green beverage and some good company. Happy Saint Patrick's Day!