The season of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations is upon us. Soon you will be seeing a flood of people dressed in green attending parades and parties. For me, I will be celebrating in New York City, watching the parade and going to a party afterward; one of the many ways to celebrate this special holiday. The holiday celebrates St. Patrick, a fifth-century missionary who helped in bringing Catholicism to Ireland.
While the holiday is a National Holiday in Ireland and is celebrated, I am more familiar with the Irish-American celebration of St. Paddy’s, and the rich history behind it. When Irish immigrants came over to America in the 19th and early 20th centuries, they faced discrimination from Americans. These immigrants left Ireland due to the Great Famine and oppression from the British. They had to work dangerous and dirty jobs, and many of these immigrants lived in extreme poverty in major cities. Irish immigrants were also Catholic and this was a large reason why they faced discrimination, as many Americans at the time were Protestant.
St. Patrick’s day became a day for these Irish immigrants to celebrate their Irish heritage. St. Patrick’s Day parades were held way before this new wave of Irish immigrants. In fact, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in St. Augustine, Fla. in 1601. However, they gained popularity through the attendance and participation of Irish immigrants. Through the years, the holiday became more popular and widespread, and now a great deal of Americans celebrate it in some way. Some of the most popular parades in the United States take place in New York City, Chicago and Savannah, Ga.
People celebrate the holiday in many different ways. I myself like to celebrate by baking Irish soda bread. It is my favorite bread, and incredibly easy to make. On St. Patrick’s Day, my mom likes to make corned beef and cabbage. Corned beef is not actually a traditional Irish meal, but is actually more of an Irish-American tradition. The meal is a symbolic reminder of what our Irish ancestors had to eat when they immigrated to America. Corned beef was a cheap meat and one of the only meats immigrants could afford at the time. Growing up I was an Irish Dancer, and I used to dance in St. Patrick’s Day parades every year. It was such a great way to celebrate my heritage. After the parades, we would all come together for a huge St. Patrick’s Day party at the local Hibernians club. Nowadays, I love to attend parades and parties for the whole month of March.
For Irish Americans all over the country, St. Patrick’s Day is a day for us to celebrate our history and heritage. The Irish have had a long and tumultuous history, and we celebrate the triumphs over the hardships our Irish ancestors had to face both in Ireland and in America. So, go out and celebrate this special holiday because everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!