St Patrick’s Day: How it came to America

Conner Harris ‘19, Photo Editor

Though St. Patrick’s Day originated in Ireland, the parades, parties, and practice of dyeing rivers green is purely an American tradition and a celebration of Irish-American pride.

St. Patrick’s Day saw its beginning in the 18th and 19th century Ireland, as a small religious observance. Those who recognized the holiday observed it by going to church. The holiday was started to honor the actual St. Patrick of the fifth century.

St. Patrick was born in Britain in the late fourth century. When he was 16 years old, he was captured in a raid and was brought back to Ireland as a slave. For six years he tended his masters sheep until he escaped to freedom and returned home. Patrick would later return to Ireland in his early 40s and begin to found many churches.

The holiday found its way to America in the mid-19th century. During this time period, the Irish potato crop suffered, causing a great famine in Ireland. Immigrants flooded into the east coast of the U.S and brought the holiday along with them.

Irish immigrants faced hatred upon their arrival in the U.S. The immigrants kept close knit communities and used St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, as a day to celebrate their homeland.

The popularity of St. Patrick’s Day did not take hold with the greater public until “the latter half of the 20th century” according to National Geographic, however, through roughly half a century, the holiday has developed into the beloved tradition that many Americans share today.

America’s now beloved holiday has of course turned into a day of drinking and partying. Pubs and bars have started serving green tinted beer just as major cities such as Chicago have dyed their rivers green (Chicago began this tradition in 1962). St. Patrick’s Day has many unique aspects as well, such as the tradition of pinching those who forget to wear green on March 17th. While I will definitely be wearing green on St Patty’s day, I would not mind if I could get a pinch of Irish luck for the holiday.

Photo courtesy of The Herald News

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