It is green day! No, I do not mean the band. I mean St. Patrick's Day. While many of us have participated in St. Patrick's Day festivities, I bet not many know the history of the holiday. To many of us, it is just a day to drink and wear green, and in general, that is not too far off. There are many fun and surprising facts about St. Patrick's Day everyone should know to truly appreciate the holiday.
Mike Cronin writes in Time a history of the holiday and explains how the U.S. formed the holiday to include the traditions we commonly celebrate today. According to Cronin, "The modest observance of St. Patrick's Day in Ireland dates back to the 17th century, as a religious feast day that commemorates the death of St. Patrick in the fifth century. Patrick is credited with having brought Christianity to Ireland, and as such became a figure of national devotion and, in due course, the nation's patron saint."
The holiday is inarguably Irish; however, modern celebration traditions were founded in the U.S. Cronin notes how St. Patrick's Day was not celebrated in Ireland as a public holiday even as late as the 20th century. At the time, it lacked the parades and public events with which many currently associate the holiday. Shockingly, by the time St. Patrick's Day parades began in the early to mid-20th century, Irish bars closed for the day. However, the party aspect picked up in the U.S. with Irish immigrants. St. Patrick's Day has been celebrated in the U.S. since 1737. For 2021, it seems celebrations will look like they did last year with closures and restrictions varying between cities in the U.S.
According to Campbell Robertson with The New York Times, St. Patrick's Day parades in Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia have all been canceled again, but the New York City parade, famous for its status as the "oldest uninterrupted St. Patrick's Day in the world," plans to hold onto this title by allowing a low-profile ceremony of people walking through Fifth Avenue in the early morning.
There are still chances to celebrate together this year, especially with restaurants opening up in different parts of the country. However, Ireland has put strict rules on St. Patrick's Day in their country. Cormac McQuinn with The Irish Times explains how the Irish government sent out a public reminder of COVID-19 restrictions banning organized gatherings and of the consequences St. Patrick's Day partiers may face.
Throughout the pandemic, Ireland has remained in a state of lockdown. St. Patrick's Day 2021 will be no different. Around this time last year, the pandemic shut down the country and brought any major 2020 St. Patrick's Day festivities to an abrupt halt, thus signifying the first holiday we lost last year due to COVID-19. Though this year's celebrations will be limited or almost non-existent, we can, at the least, appreciate the culture and significance behind the holiday as the world begins to heal.