MARCH 17 - Saint Patrick's Day
Saint Patrick's Day (Irish: Lá ’le Pádraig or Lá Fhéile Pádraig), colloquially St. Paddy's Day or simply Paddy's Day, is an annual feast day which celebrates Saint Patrick (circa AD 385–461), the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of Ireland, and is generally celebrated on 17th of March.
The day is a national holiday of Ireland: it is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland and a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland. It is also a public holiday in Montserrat. In Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, the United States, Argentina and New Zealand, it is widely celebrated but is not an official holiday.
St. Patrick's feast day was placed on the universal liturgical calendar in the Catholic Church due to the influence of the Waterford-born Franciscan scholar Luke Wadding in the early part of the 17th century, although the feast day was celebrated in the local Irish church from a much earlier date. St. Patrick's Day is a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholics in Ireland. The feast day usually falls during Lent; if it falls on a Friday of Lent (unless it is Good Friday), the obligation to abstain from eating meat can be lifted by the local bishop. The church calendar avoids the observance of saints' feasts during certain solemnities, moving the saint's day to a time outside those periods. St. Patricks Day is very occasionally affected by this requirement. Thus when 17th of March falls during Holy Week, as in 1940 when St. Patrick's Day was observed on 3 April in order to avoid it coinciding with Palm Sunday, and again in 2008, having been observed on 15 March. St. Patrick's Day will not fall within Holy Week again until 2160 - when it will fall on the Monday before Easter.
Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated worldwide by those of Irish descent and increasingly by people of other ethnicities as well, notably in Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and North America. Celebrations are generally themed around all things Irish and, by association, the colour green. Both Christians and non-Christians celebrate the secular version of the holiday by wearing green, eating Irish food and/or green foods, imbibing Irish drink (such as Irish stout, especially Guinness, Irish Whiskey or Irish Cream) and attending parades, which have a particularly long history in the United States and in Canada.
"Leprechauns" kick off week-long festivities by renaming New London, Wisconsin to New Dublin
As well as being a celebration of Irish culture, Saint Patrick's Day is a Christian festival celebrated in the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland, and some other denominations. The day almost always falls in the season of Lent, and some bishops will grant an indult, or release, from the Friday no-meat observance when St. Patrick's Day falls on a Friday; this is sometimes colloquially known as a "corned-beef indult".
When 17 March falls on a Sunday, church calendars (though rarely secular ones) move Saint Patrick's Day to the following Monday — and when the 17th falls during Holy Week (very rarely), the observance will be moved to the next available date or, exceptionally, before holy week. The public holiday in Ireland occurs on 17 March, unless that date occurs at the weekend being fixed on the State calendar. In North American communities with large populations of persons of Italian descent, St. Patrick's Day celebrations are often combined with those of Saint Joseph's Day, which takes place on 19 March, two days after St. Patrick's Day.
Wearing of green
According to legend, St. Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Christian Irish people.
Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St Patrick's Day as early as the 17th century. He is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Christian Irish, and the wearing and display of shamrocks and shamrock-inspired designs have become a ubiquitous feature of the day. The phrase "the wearing of the green", meaning to wear a shamrock on one's clothing, derives from the song of the same name.
History in Ireland
Traditional Irish St. Patrick's day badges from the early 20th century, photographed at the Museum of Country Life.
In the past, Saint Patrick's Day was celebrated as a religious holiday. It became a public holiday in 1903, by the Money Bank. (Ireland) Act 1903, an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament introduced by the Irish MP James O'Mara. O'Mara later introduced the law which required that pubs be closed on 17 March, a provision which was repealed only in the 1970s. The first St. Patrick's Day parade held in the Irish Free State was held in Dublin in 1931 and was reviewed by the then Minister of Defence Desmond Fitzgerald. Although secular celebrations now exist, the holiday remains a religious observance in Ireland, for both the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic Church.
It was only in the mid-1990s that the Irish government began a campaign to use Saint Patrick's Day to showcase Ireland and its culture. The government set up a group called St. Patrick's Festival, with the aim to:
— Offer a national festival that ranks amongst all of the greatest celebrations in the world and promote excitement throughout Ireland via innovation, creativity, grassroots involvement, and marketing activity.
— Provide the opportunity and motivation for people of Irish descent, (and those who sometimes wish they were Irish) to attend and join in the imaginative and expressive celebrations.
— Project, internationally, an accurate image of Ireland as a creative, professional and sophisticated country with wide appeal, as we approach the new millennium.
The first Saint Patrick's Festival was held on 17 March, 1996. In 1997, it became a three-day event, and by 2000 it was a four-day event. By 2006, the festival was five days long; over 675,000 people attended the 2009 parade.
The topic of the 2004 St. Patrick's Symposium was "Talking Irish," during which the nature of Irish identity, economic success, and the future were discussed. Since 1996, there has been a greater emphasis on celebrating and projecting a fluid and inclusive notion of "Irishness" rather than an identity based around traditional religious or ethnic allegiance. The week around Saint Patrick's Day usually involves Irish language speakers using more Irish during seachtain na Gaeilge ("Irish Week").
As well as Dublin, many other Irish cities, towns and villages hold their own parades and festivals, including Cork, Belfast, Derry, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, and Waterford.
The biggest celebrations outside Dublin are in Downpatrick, County Down, where Saint Patrick is rumoured to be buried following his death on 17 March, 461. In 2004, according to Down District Council, the week-long St. Patrick's Festival had over 2,000 participants and 82 floats, bands, and performers, and was watched by over 30,000 people.
Belfast City Council recently agreed to give public funds to its parade for the very first time. In previous years funding was refused by pro-British Unionist councillors in the city for not being inclusive of Unionist citizens, the refusal to fund it was labelled as "anti-Irish racism" by Nationalist Belfast councillors.
Sign on a beam in the Guinness Storehouse.
Since the 1990s, Irish Taoiseach have sometimes attended special functions either on Saint Patrick's Day or a day or two earlier, in the White House, where they present a shamrock to the President of the United States. A similar presentation is made to the Speaker of the House. Originally only representatives of the Republic of Ireland attended, but since the mid-1990s all major political parties in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are invited, with the attendance including the representatives of the Irish government, the Ulster Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Sinn Féin and others. No Northern Irish parties were invited for these functions in 2005. In recent years, it is common for the entire Irish government to be abroad representing the country in various parts of the world. In 2003, the President of Ireland celebrated the holiday in Sydney, the Taoiseach was in Washington, while other Irish government members attended ceremonies in New York City, Boston, San Francisco, Buffalo, San Jose, Savannah, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, San Diego, New Zealand, Argentina, Hong Kong, South Africa, Korea, Japan, and Brazil.
Christian leaders in Ireland have expressed concern about the secularisation of St Patrick's Day. Writing in The Word magazine's March 2007 issue, Fr. Vincent Twomey stated that, "it is time to reclaim St Patrick's Day as a church festival". He questioned the need for "mindless alcohol-fuelled revelry" and concluded that, "it is time to bring the piety and the fun together".
In the United States
The White House fountain was dyed green in celebration of Saint Patrick's Day on March 17, 2009.
Irish Society of Boston organized what was the first Saint Patrick's Day Parade in the colonies on 17 March, 1737. The first celebration of Saint Patrick's Day in New York City was held at the Crown and Thistle Tavern in 1766,the parades were held as political and social statements because the Irish immigrants were being treated unfairly. and New York's first Saint Patrick's Day Parade was held on 17 March, 1762 by Irish soldiers in the British Army. In 1780, General George Washington, who commanded soldiers of Irish descent in the Continental Army, allowed his troops a holiday on 17 March “as an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence." This event became known as The St. Patrick's Day Encampment of 1780.
Postcard postmarked 1912 in the United States
Today, Saint Patrick's Day is widely celebrated in America by Irish and non-Irish alike. Many people, regardless of ethnic background, wear green-coloured clothing and items. Traditionally, those who are caught not wearing green are pinched, usually affectionately.
Some cities paint the traffic stripe of their parade routes green. Chicago dyes its river green and has done so since 1961 when sewer workers used green dye to check for sewer discharges and got the idea to turn the river green for St. Patrick's Day. Indianapolis also dyes its main canal green. Savannah dyes its downtown city fountains green. Missouri University of Science and Technology - St Pat's Board Alumni paint 12 city blocks kelly green with mops before the annual parade. In Jamestown, New York, the Chadakoin River (a small tributary that connects Conewango Creek with its source at Chautauqua Lake) is dyed green each year.
Many parades are held to celebrate the holiday. The longest-running of these are:
* Boston, Massachusetts, since 1737
* New York City, since 1762
* Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, since 1771
* Morristown, New Jersey, since 1780
* New Orleans, Louisiana, since 1809
* Buffalo, New York, since 1811
* Savannah, Georgia, since 1813
* Carbondale, Pennsylvania, since 1833
* Milwaukee, Wisconsin, since 1843
* Chicago, Illinois, since 1843
* New Haven, Connecticut, since 1845
* Saint Paul, Minnesota, since 1851
* San Francisco, California, since 1852
* Scranton, Pennsylvania, since 1862
* Cleveland, Ohio, since 1867
* Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, since 1869
* Kansas City, Missouri, since 1873
* Butte, Montana, since 1882
* Rolla, Missouri, since 1908
Many other cities in the United States hold parades, including:
* Bayonne, New Jersey
* Baton Rouge
* Holyoke, Massachusetts
* Jackson, Mississippi
* New Haven, Connecticut
* New London, Wisconsin (which changes its name to New Dublin the week of St. Patrick's Day)
* Newport, Rhode Island,
* Norfolk, Virginia
* Pearl River, New York
* Salt Lake City
* St. Louis
* Staten Island, New York
The parade organizers have claimed an expected attendance of around 400,000. In 2006, the Tánaiste was featured in the parade. The parade travels through Savannah's Historic District. One tradition that has developed has been the official "dyeing of the fountains" which happens several days before the parade. Another tradition is for women spectators to kiss the Armed Forces Units and other military organizations' male members. Savannah does not have an open container law so there is a proliferation of alcohol on River Street, Bay Street and in City Market.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana, the parades display influences from Mardi Gras, including float riders throwing spectators strings of beads, cabbages, and potatoes.
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Perhaps the smallest notable parade World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade, is said to take place in Hot Springs, Arkansas in the United States annually held on historic Bridge Street which became famous in the 1940s when Ripley’s Believe It or Not designated it “The Shortest Street in the World.” Boulder, Colorado claims to have the shortest parade, which is also less than a single city block.
Syracuse, New York
In the city of Syracuse, NY, Saint Patrick's celebrations are traditionally begun with the delivery of green beer to Coleman's Irish Pub on the first Sunday of March. Coleman's is located in the Tipperary Hill section of the city. Tipperary Hill is home to the World famous "Green-on-Top" Traffic Light and is historically the Irish section in Syracuse. Saint Patrick's Day is rung in at midnight with the painting of a Shamrock under the Green-Over-Red traffic light. Syracuse boasts the largest St. Patrick's day celebration per-capita in the United States with their annual Syracuse St. Patrick's Parade, founded by Nancy Duffy, an honored journalist in the Central New York area and an active community leader. "The parade remains a major annual event, typically drawing an estimated crowd of more than 100,000 visitors to downtown Syracuse, as well as 5,000 to 6,000 marchers."
New York City
The New York parade has become the largest Saint Patrick's Day parade in the world. In a typical year, 150,000 marchers participate in it, including bands, firefighters, military and police groups, county associations, emigrant societies, and social and cultural clubs, and 2 million spectators line the streets. The parade marches up 5th Avenue in Manhattan and is always led by the U.S. 69th Infantry Regiment. New York politicians - or those running for office - are always found prominently marching in the parade. Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch once proclaimed himself "Ed O'Koch" for the day, and he continues to don an Irish sweater and march every year up until 2003, even though he is no longer in office.
The parade is organized and run by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. For many years, the St. Patrick's Day Parade was the primary public function of the organization. On occasion the order has appointed controversial Irish republican figures (some of whom were barred from the U.S.) to be its Grand Marshal. The parade has also drawn controversy for many years for its exclusion of openly gay organizations.
The New York parade is moved to the previous Saturday (16 March) in years where 17 March is a Sunday. The event also has been moved on the rare occasions when, due to Easter falling on a very early date, 17 March would land in Holy Week. This same scenario arose again in 2008, when Easter fell on 23 March. The festivities went ahead on their normal date and had record viewers. In many other American cities (such as San Francisco), the parade is always held on the Sunday before 17 March, regardless of the liturgical calendar.
This Western Mass factory town was the site of massive Irish immigration in the 19th Century, and hosts a Parade its organizers claim is the second largest in the United States. It is scheduled on the Sunday following St. Patrick's Day each year. Attendance exceeds 300,000, with over 25,000 marchers, through a 2.3 mile route in this city of 40,000. A 10K road Race and many events create a remarkable festival weekend. Each year an Irish-American who has distinguished himself or herself in their chosen profession is awarded the John F. Kennedy National Award. JFK was a National Award Winner in the 1958 Holyoke Parade. Other winners include author Tom Clancy, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, and actor Pat O'Brien
Due to the rich history of Scranton participation in St. Patrick's Day festivities it is one of the oldest and most populated parades in the United States. It has been going on annually since 1862 by the St. Patrick's Day Parade Association of Lackawanna County and the parade has gotten attention nationally as being one of the better St. Patrick's Day parades. The parade route begins on Wyoming Ave. and loops up to Penn Ave. and then Lackawanna Ave. before going back down over Jefferson Ave. to get to Washington Ave. Scranton hosts the third largest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the United States. In 2008, up to 150,000 people attended the parade.
Due to Seattle's northern state climates, like Ireland, the city received many Irish immigrants. So many that Seattle and Galway are sister cities. Every year on St. Patrick's Day, the Seattle Parade starts at 4th Avenue and Jefferson to the Reviewing Stand at Westlake Park, ending officially at the Seattle Center. The annual Irish Week Festival, which takes place around St. Patrick's day is enormous, including step dancing, food, historical and modern exhibitions, and Irish lessons.
Las Vegas, Nevada
The Southern Nevada, (formerly Las Vegas) Sons of Erin has put on a parade since 1966. It was formerly held on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas, later moved to 4th street. Since 2005, the parade has been held in downtown Henderson. It is one of the biggest parades in the state of Nevada. It also consists of a three day festival, carnival and classic car show in Old Town Henderson.
The festivities of the St. Patrick's Day Parade (since 1956) include a 5K race with a finish line at Power Plant Live! and a brunch (both on the day of the parade) plus numerous fundraisers in Baltimore's Irish restaurants, leading up to the event.
See also: Missouri University of Science and Technology#St. Patrick's Day
Rolla is home to the Missouri University of Science & Technology (formerly known as University of Missouri-Rolla, and Missouri School of Mines), an engineering college. St. Patrick is the patron saint of engineers, and the school and town's celebrations last for a week or more, with a downtown parade held the Saturday before St. Patrick's. A royal court are crowned, and the streets of the city's downtown area are painted solid green. In 2008, Rolla celebrated its 100th St. Patrick's Day celebration.
In previous years, a pit of green liquid was made by students as part of the festivities, and named 'Alice' -- stepping into Alice was a rite of bravery. In recent years, however, the university faculty has banned the practice out of health concerns.
Although the baseball season is still in the spring training phase when St. Patrick's Day rolls around, some teams celebrate by wearing St. Patrick's Day themed uniforms. The Cincinnati Reds were the first team to ever wear St. Patrick's Day hats in 1978. The Boston Red Sox were the second team to start wearing St. Patrick's Day hats in 1990. Many teams have since started wearing St. Patrick's day themed jerseys, including the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1980s and Boston Red Sox in 2004. Since then it has become a tradition of many sports teams to also wear special uniforms to celebrate the holiday. The Los Angeles Dodgers also have a history with the Irish-American community. With the O'Malley family owning the team and now Frank McCourt, the Dodgers have had team celebrations or worn green jerseys on St. Patrick's Day. The Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies also wear St. Patrick's Day caps and jerseys. Other teams celebrate by wearing kelly green hats. These teams include: the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago White Sox, the New York Mets, the San Diego Padres, the Atlanta Braves, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Kansas City Royals, the Seattle Mariners and the St. Louis Cardinals. The Washington Nationals have fan green hat day on September 17 to represent 6 months to St. Patrick's Day.
Nearly all major league baseball teams now produce St. Patrick's day merchandise, including Kelly green hats, jerseys, and t-shirts.
Between March 15 and 17th of 2009, a number of NBA teams wore green jerseys in recognition of St. Patrick's Day including the Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors and Dallas Mavericks. The Boston Celtics, whose home jersey is green, wore a specially designed green and gold jersey.
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