Kiss me, I’m Irish – and the history of other St. Patty’s traditions

in Entertainment by

Putting on your nicest green clothing, singing merry Irish jigs and drinking (non-alcoholic, hopefully) Irish stouts might seem like your idea of a perfect modern St. Patrick’s Day, but this holiday actually spans centuries. 

Celebrated March 17 each year, St. Patrick’s Day parades are a staple of American culture, particularly in the New England region with large Irish-American populations. The origins of the holiday, however, trace back to Ireland itself with the actual St. Patrick. A missionary from the 5th century, St. Patrick brought Christianity to some parts of Ireland and in turn became one of the patron saints of the country.

Tales of St. Patrick’s legendary mission, where he allegedly used the naturally-growing shamrocks in Ireland to explain the Holy Trinity, became associated with the day named in his honor, but much of what we now associate with St. Patrick’s Day has nothing to do with him.

In fact, despite the holiday’s strong association with green, the official color of St. Patrick himself is blue. The prominence of green in St. Patrick’s celebrations might be thanks to its use as a symbol for Irish resistance during the 1700s, where the Society of United Irishmen symbolized their support for nationalism by implementing some green in their outfits.

In contrast to the solemnity associated with St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, Irish-American immigrants began to celebrate the holiday with loud parades, bagpipes, drinking and dancing. These traditions, born in America, helped Irish immigrants continue celebrating their culture and community during a time of anti-Catholic discrimination in the country. The rowdy, entertaining celebrations stuck, eventually spreading worldwide. 

Today, the Irish celebration in America continues, with Chicago even dyeing their river green to ring in the day. From its beginnings as a religious day to its global celebration of Irish culture, St. Patrick’s Day continues to bring people together. 

Chicago welcomes in St. Patrick’s Day by dyeing their eponymous river green. Associated with Irish independence, green has become an important symbol of the holiday. (Photo/Scott Liebenson via Wikimedia Commons)

Senior Ellaheh Gohari is entering her fourth (and sadly final) year on staff and third year as co-EIC of the Patriot Post. She loves learning new things and can often be found going down Wikipedia rabbit holes in search of random knowledge. Outside of room 25310, she serves as co-president to both the Girls Excelling in Math and Science club and the Science National Honor Society. A science-lover, she enjoys exploring the subject through research projects with UMiami, volunteer tutoring with OTTER and fact-checks with MediaWise. She hopes you enjoy your time reading the Patriot Post.