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?
Visit Lyn at Texas Druids.
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Facinating, Lyn! I've never celebrated - no one drop of Irish blood in me. Obviously, becuase the thought of green beer makes me want to hurl.
Love hearing the stories though! Thanks for the research!
I am Irish, Scotch Irish, actually and have always enjoyed wearing the green. 🙂 Thanks for the historical tidbits. Never realized they dyed the river green in Chicago. Growing up we always wore the green then I researched the Scotch Irish and now I realize that the born and raised Scotch weren't overly fond of them. Ha! Oh well, I still claim some Irish anyway. BTW, I love the Irish stuff in your books. Just enough of fun dialogue to set the atmosphere. Really fun reads.
Lyn, I am hail and happy from NYC. I have The Irish as in-laws, my kids one-eighth The Irish, the gran of my brother's wife spoke in The Irish. Me? I am first generation Italian and got a kick out of the Saint's day when the Italians repainted the green lines in NYC in protest. It must be that little Italian devil in me 🙂 To be completely fair, what I did get, especially from the ones that insisted on speaking in The Irish (forbidden for so many decades) was the mirth and a gaggle of great characters for my stories!
We actually don't celebrate anymore. We used to, when I was in college and it was just another excuse to drink, lol. I'd forgotten the wonderful history behind the holiday. Thank you for sharing with us!
When the kids were young, we had green pancakes in the morning and cabbage at dinner. I still do cabbage, potatoes and corned beef.
Thank you for the pictures.
And the beginnings of the day.
Laura, I'm not too fond of green beer, either, but I love wearing the green!
Shar, I'm a quarter Scotch-Irish on my dad's side of the family, and I love both Scotland and Ireland. Thanks for mentioning my Texas Druid books! Darlin' Druid is now available in print as well Kindle, and Dashing Druid will also be in print within a few weeks. I'm using CreateSpace, an Amazon affiliate, to print and distribute my books. They have a great support staff, always ready to answer questions by phone.
Ramblings, both the Irish and Italians are such a vital part of our country, especially in NYC. You are a lucky gal to be part of that tradition, and to find inspiration for your stories. Thanks for sharing!
Stacy, it's my pleasure! I'm glad you enjoyed my little bits of history.
Sandy, green pancakes, cool! My husband once added green food coloring to a batch of chocolate chip cookies. They looked kind of unappetizing, but they tasted great. Cabbage was a favorite of my dad's. I confess I didn't like it, especially the smell. My Irish ancestors would probably disown me! 😉
For me and my saplings, corned beef and cabbage is traditional.
As for UT, well...my roots will suck down some Smithwick's suds.
Have a happy holiday! 🙂 Cheerz, Uncle Tree
I used to celebrate more than I do now. I wear green and try to eat corned beef and cabbage. My maternal grandfather's father's family was all from Ireland. My great-great-grandmother, Ella Quinn hails from County Longford.
[...] 3. Want to know how our American St. Paddy’s Day celebrations got started? Find out at Writers In The Storm, where I’m guest blogging today. http://writersinthestorm.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/happy-st-pattys-day/ [...]
I don't celebrate it anymore. Thirty years ago I played the bagpipes with a pipe-and-drum band, and had my fill of St. Patrick's Day. Actually, I had my fill of the annoyingly Irish that come out of the woodwork on March 17. I usually tell people I'm English and Welsh, which is my heritage on Dad's side of the family; they all passed through Ireland on their way to the United States. Mom's side is all Irish, although her grandfather was born in London and his wife was from Northern Ireland, which is still part of the United Kingdom.
Um, what goes in green, comes out green. Just sayin'.
Thanks for the fun post, Lyn. 🙂 We're having green cake with shamrocks this year and the g-kids have cooked up some sort of party. I'll find out when the army of leprechauns descend upon me. Hmmm, that green beer is sounding better and better.
I love me some corned beef and cabbage!!! It's that time of year. 🙂
Uncle Tree, I love your gravatar! Looks like something out of Hobbiton in Lord of the Rings. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy your traditions and the suds.
Ella, so you were named after your gr gr grandmother? How cool! You're lucky to know where your roots are in Erin. I don't, I'm sad to say. Maybe someday I'll get back to researching my ancestry.
Oh, John, I love pipe and drum bands. That music gives me goosebumps. Sorry you no longer like celebrating. I don't really do much either, but I do love seeing clips from the parades and that green Chicago River. I lived up there for five years before moving to Texas.
Jacquie, I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time with the grands. Green cake I could do.
Hey, Jenny, I'll try corned beef and sauerkraut on a Rueben sandwich. It may not be Irish, but I love it.
I'm Irish and I don't celebrate it anymore. At home, the festivities are for the young, the restless and the tourists. Although I do enjoy the day off that we get with Paddy's Day!