Few celebrations are as exciting as those on behalf of the man who drove the snakes from Ireland. Patrick’s death was believed to be on March 17th in 461 A.D. Patrick’s sainthood is celebrated on that day in March. In addition to the snake legend, he is credited with explaining to the people of Ireland the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity. He used the three leaves of a native Irish clover, the shamrock, to explain the three are as one, concept of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Eleven percent of Americans can claim Irish Ancestry. So it is only fitting that the first parade held to honor St. Patrick occurred in the United States, not in Ireland. On March 17, 1762, Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City accompanied by Irish tunes. The event helped the soldiers reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as with fellow Irishmen serving in the English army far from home.
In modern day Boston, a city that is rich in Irish-American traditions, the date, is also “Evacuation Day” – marking the British evacuation of that city in 1776 in the American Revolutionary war. In that case the British residents and army marched out of town, not through it, to escape the rebels!
In Dublin, Ireland this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival, The Gathering Ireland 2013, will go on for four full days from March 14 -18. The celebration includes a huge parade on the 17th in which 8,000 people from around the world will participate.
It is a day to remember also, because bands march and pipes play, not in memory of war, but in celebration of heritage. On St. Patrick’s Day we all can be Irish by simply wearing green, eating corned beef and cabbage and drinking green beer. “Hats off” to the wearers of the green! One of my favorite football teams is the “Fighting Irish.” Enjoy the celebration!