Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Origins of St. Patrick's Day

I love March - it's the
beginning of spring - everything is turning green - and it is the month of St. Patrick's Day.  So, I decided how fun would it be to go someplace new to look for St. Patrick's Day parade?

For those of you who do not know the origins of St. Patrick's
Day, here is a little bit of history. It's widely believed that Patrick was kidnapped from his home
in Britain in the fourth century by Irish raiders. He was taken to Ireland and held as a slave for several years.

According to legend he was told by God in a dream to flee the captivity by
running along the shore, getting on a ship, and return to Britain. Patrick followed the instructions and upon arriving back home, he quickly joined the church and studied to be a priest.

In 432 Patrick went back to Ireland. He was to spread Christianity to the pagan Irish. It said that he used a shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish people.
Known as the Patron St. of
Ireland, Patrick died on March 17, 461.
St. Patrick's Day has been celebrated as early as the 1600s, and was steeped with religious overtones.

As the Irish immigrated throughout the United States, they brought the celebration of  St. Patrick's Day with them. The first time it was celebrated in the 13 colonies was by the
Charitable Irish Society of Boston. The purpose was to get together in honor of Ireland.  Massachusetts population has 23.9% of its population with Irish descent, you bet Boston puts on a great parade. Filled with floats, bagpipers, bands, horses, and marchers the parade draws
over 850,000 attendees.

Would you believe that the first St. Patrick's Day parade was not in Ireland but was in the United States? Irish soldiers that were serving in the English military paraded through New York City
on March 17, 1762. Now, the parade has an estimated 2 million attendees every year and has been running continuously since that very first parade in 1762! The parade last between five and six hours. The parade remains true to its origins and does not allow floats, automobiles, or other commercial aspects to participate. Over 150,000 to 250,000 marchers travel down the parade route.

Chicago, Illinois also has one of the largest St. Patrick's Day parades in the country. Started in 1843 to celebrate the rich Irish history, parade goers love to see the Chicago River turned green
for the duration of the parade. The recipe is a closely guarded secret that has been found to be environmentally safe. The parades starts promptly at noon and last about three hours. Rain or shine the parade goes on.

If you get bored at parades, then maybe you should swing down to Hot Springs, Arkansas. It is the shortest route with on 98 feet. But, don't let that fool you, it has a Parade King and Queen, a
celebrity Grand Marshall, bagpipers, floats, leprechauns, and bands.
Other notable parades are the Denver St. Patrick's Day Parade, the New Orleans St. Patrick's Day Parade, and of course if you have more than a weekend go to Ireland!

No matter where you decide to go, make sure you are wearing green. This tradition wearing of the green stems back to
wearing a shamrock or green in honor of St. Patrick. I'm not sure where I may endup on
St.Patrick's day, (which by the way is on a Tuesday), but there's a lot of parades to check out.

So, enjoy some green beer, corned beef and cabbage and enjoy the day!

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