Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I love a good holiday as much as the next guy. However, have you ever stopped to wonder why we celebrate certain holiday's in America? After all, what did Saint Patrick due for us?

I thought I would share the history of the holiday in America. This is how we came to celebrate it. If you want to learn more about the history of St. Patrick, then let me encourage you to visit the History Channel for a great study.

I took this information directly from the History Channel's website. For more information, visit the site here.

The History of the Holiday

St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17, his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years.

On St. Patrick's Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink, and feast—on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

The First Parade

The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place not in Ireland, but in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers to reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.

Over the next thirty-five years, Irish patriotism among American immigrants flourished, prompting the rise of so-called "Irish Aid" societies, like the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian Society. Each group would hold annual parades featuring bagpipes (which actually first became popular in the Scottish and British armies) and drums.

In 1848, several New York Irish aid societies decided to unite their parades to form one New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade. Today, that parade is the world 's oldest civilian parade and the largest in the United States, with over 150,000 participants.

Each year, nearly three million people line the one-and-a-half mile parade route to watch the procession, which takes more than five hours. Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Savannah also celebrate the day with parades including between 10,000 to 20,000 participants.

There you have it. According to History.com, that is how Americans came to celebrate this holiday!

I hope that gets you thinking about all the holidays we celebrate here in the US. Do you really know why you are celebrating them? Think about that while you enjoy your Corn Beef and Cabbage!

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