I will never forget running into a very strange procession on the streets of Manhattan, shortly after my arrival into the US. Hundreds of men were passing by, all in unusual green clothing, all with the expression of extreme importance on their faces, carrying banners and shiny omulets. Fortunately, my companions were local and quickly explained: “It’s Saint Patrick’s day parade”. What do you know about this celebration, so popular in America?
1. Most people know that St Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious holiday celebrating the Patron Saint of Ireland, St. Patrick, but did you know St. Patrick was not Irish?
Saint Patrick (known as Magonus Socatus before sainthood) was born in 5th century Roman Britain but was captured and brought to Ireland as a slave at age 16. He escaped, but later returned as a missionary and is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. It is believed he died on March 17th, 461. For hundreds of years he was forgotten, but then resurrected as the Patron Saint of Ireland in the early 17th century, hence theof St Patrick’s Day on March 17th, the day he died.
2. Until recently allwere required by law to be closed on St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland.
St Patrick’s Day was originally a religious holiday and thus Irish laws mandated that all pubs be closed on March 17th. This law was on the books until the 1970s.
Beginning in 1995, the Irish government saw the potential to use global interest in St. Patrick’s Day to stimulate tourism and showcase Ireland and Irish culture to the rest of the world. Today, about 1 million people converge on the cobbled streets of Dublin to enjoy St. Patrick’s Festival, a multi-day celebration with, concerts, outdoor theater productions, fireworks and of course, lots of pub crawling.