Saint Patrick was born in Roman Britain in the fifth century, but was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He eventually escaped but decided Ireland was a pretty cool place so he returned [insert joke about high school reunions]. He believed he was meant to bring Christianity to Ireland and its people, and so he did. The name “Saint Patrick” actually came after his death, when an Irish cleric needed a figure he could use to unite the Irish people.
As the patriotism of the immigrants grew, Irish societies arose and would hold annual parades. In 1848, the societies decided to combine their parades to create one giant parade in New York. This became the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the world’s oldest civilian parade. It also became the largest in the United States with over 150,000 participants, a 1.5-mile parade route, and it takes five hours. In 1948, President Harry S. Truman attended the parade, which, for many Irish Americans was a very proud moment.
Kiss Me, I’m Basically A Castle
The story behind the quintessential “kiss me I’m Irish” (and other versions of that) quote on many shirts during St. Patrick’s Day is basically this: Irish people are the next best thing to kissing the actual stone at Blarney Castle in Ireland. Kissing the stone is said to give you the power of eloquent and persuasive speech.
Today, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are most popular in the United States, Canada, and Australia; although Japan, Singapore, Russia, and many other countries also hold celebrations. What about Ireland? Up until the 1970’s, l laws in Ireland required bars to be closed as this was seen as a traditionally religious holiday. In 1995, however, the Irish government decided to overturn that law and instead to use the holiday to showcase Irish culture to residence and tourists.