To many Americans, Saint Patrick’s day is the only day of the year they can wear the one green shirt they own from the back of their closet. This year, it can also be an excuse to drink beer on a Tuesday. Though Saint Patrick’s day can seem like it just honors Ireland, it is actually also a way to recognize Irish immigration and, more specifically, Irish Americans.
Saint Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland in the 5th century and is said to have passed away on March 17. Following the death of Saint Patrick, until the 18th century, the holiday was very religious and mostly celebrated in Ireland with a big feast. When a mass amount of Irish people started moving to the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries, they transformed the holiday to the revelry it is today.
Today, 10% of the American population has some sort of Irish roots, which is more than English and Italians. When the newly Irish population of Boston threw the first St. Patrick’s day parade in 1737, the tradition spread among Irish Americans and eventually to Dublin. The New York City Parade is still the largest parade in America.
Irish culture in America first took its own form in New York, Boston and Chicago, and now has spread all over the country. It has been ingrained into American cultures and customs, including new cuisines, Saint Patrick’s day, politicians, inventors, and most notably Guinness beer.
Many of these Irish people on Saint Patrick’s Day want to celebrate their heritage through songs and dancing and have a good laugh with friends and family.
There is no reason this celebration should be limited to just Irish people. It is a way to support and experience the lively Irish community. This year, though parades are canceled, it’s still possible to stay home, eat some corned beef, spend time with friends and maybe do a little jig. In light of the CDC recently advising the public not to attend gatherings of 50 or more people, tonight is not the night to crowd Irish pubs and bars.
Some Irish songs to celebrate to while you’re at home:
Fiona O’Brien is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.