Is St. Patrick More Important to America Than Ireland?


One might think so when one considers the annual celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. At least, the way we do it.

The first organized celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in America dates back to Boston — not a surprise there! — in 1737. The first parade to mark the day happened twenty-five years later in the Big Apple.

Organized St. Patrick’s Day celebrations along the lines of what we do here only started in Ireland in 1996, when the annual St. Patrick’s Day festival kicked off.

So what gives? Well, to put things into perspective, you have to consider that St. Patrick’s Day has traditionally been celebrated for centuries in Ireland as a religious holy day of mass in the morning and a feast in the afternoon. Though St. Paddy’s falls in the middle of Lent, traditional restrictions against the consumption of meat are waived.

So bring on the corned beef and cabbage, right?

Nope. Not in Ireland. There, the traditional meal is Irish bacon and cabbage. Corned beef became the Americanized Irish condition because poor Irish immigrants in New York found this as the affordable alternative.

As for the green, if we were really out to honor St. Patrick, the leader lauded for having brought Christianity to Ireland, the Irish way, we’d be dressing up in blue instead of green. Blue was the original color associated with Saint Patrick in his home country.

As for the symbols associated with the day, you aren’t likely to find a big deal made about leprechauns or pots of gold at the end of rainbows throughout history. But shamrocks do have a history there, and a religious history at that. That’s because those familiar three-leaf clovers were used to help illustrate the notion of the Holy Trinity, denoting the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as one being, as Christians define God.

Maybe next year, we should spend the day in church, wear blue, and have a feast of thanksgiving.  But I doubt we’ll be able to sell that idea to the partiers.

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.