You have probably seen the green decorations, leprechauns and four leaf clovers that are synonymous with St Patrick’s Day. You probably know it is a celebration of all things Irish, with parades, parties and green beer, but here’s the twist. It’s actually America where the party is the largest. What is it all really about though?
St. Patrick’s Day was originally a Christian observed holiday to commemorate the death of St. Patrick, who is the patron saint of Ireland, and the arrival of Christianity into Ireland. The earliest known celebration was held in 1631. Modern celebrations have been greatly influenced by the Irish settlers who moved to the US in the 1800s, who in response to discrimination against them threw huge parties to celebrate their heritage and show pride in who they were. It has now evolved into a celebration of Irish heritage and culture in general.
Why green? Another American tradition. A tale that wearing green made you invisible to leprechauns and fairy creatures who would pinch anyone they could see. People began pinching those who didn’t wear green as a reminder that leprechauns would sneak up and attack.
Other fun things that happen on St Patricks Day include:
- Chicago River being dyed green (using a vegetable based dye the parade committee assure is environmentally friendly.)
- Russia has a yearly St Pats day festival in Moscow and other major cities.
- Lithuania dyes the Vilnia River green every year on St Patrick’s Day
- The Irish Association of Korea has celebrated Saint Patrick's Day since 1976
- Astronauts on board the International Space Station once celebrated the festival playing instruments belonging to the Irish music group The Chieftains, while floating in the space station on Saint Patrick's Day in 2011