By Lyn Horner
St. Patrick’s Day is observed on March 17, the date of the saint’s death. In Ireland, it is a day of obligation for Catholics as well as a secular holiday. In other countries, it’s a day to celebrate Ireland and Irish ancestry.
The first St.Patrick’s Day parade took place on March 17, 1762, in New York City. Irish soldiers serving in the British army marched through the city streets to the sound of music from their native land. In following years, descendants of the emerald isle formed Irish aid societies such as the Hibernian Society and the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick, and held yearly parades. Eventually the various groups came together to sponsor the official New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The custom soon spread to other cities, including Chicago. Fifty years ago, in March 1962, Chicagoans began another tradition. They dyed the Chicago River green in honor of their annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration. The river has undergone the dye job every year since without fail. The first time, they dumped in 100 pounds of green food coloring. The color lingered for a week. Today, to guard against pollution, much less dye is added, just enough to keep the river green for eight hours.
Nowadays, everyone claims a “little bit of the Irish” on this festive occasion. So here’s to you, my fine lads and colleens!
So tell me, how do you celebrate St. Patricks Day?
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