St. Patrick’s Day is obviously a major holiday in Ireland. Tourists from all over the world flock to the Emerald Isle to celebrate with the locals and sometimes connect with their Irish roots. Although, the Irish tend to celebrate a bit different than one might think.
What is St. Patrick’s Day All About?
Bigg Dogg came home from school on the last day before the St. Patrick’s holiday break (The kids get 3 days off from school for St. Patrick’s Day.) with a full breakdown of St. Patrick. The maintenance man happened to be at our house doing some work and chimed in. He said, “I have lived in Ireland 47 years and I didn’t know that.” So, I asked Bigg Dogg to share what he learned:
- St. Patrick’s Day is observed on March 17th. This date is the anniversary of St. Patrick’s death and not his birthday.
- St. Patrick was born in Wales.
- St. Patrick was born into a noble family and was captured, enslaved (for six years) and brought to Ireland at the age of 16.
- As a slave, St. Patrick was forced to tend to farm animals under harsh conditions. During those years of isolation, St. Patrick prayed everyday and longed for compassion, understanding and freedom.
- St. Patrick escaped to Dublin and then returned to his family by boat. He had a vision that he was to return to the pagan country of Ireland to establish Christianity.
- The myth is that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland. There are actually no snakes on the island but experts confirmed that it was to cold for snakes to even make it to Ireland.
- The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York City in the 1760’s.
How St. Patrick’s Day is Celebrated In and Around Ireland
Surprisingly, the large St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and parade only started in Ireland in 1995 to help boost tourism. Now there is a 5 day festival, a parade, a 5k race and plenty of live musical performances around town. The locals tend to celebrate by attending mass, a local parade and ending the evening with a feast and drinks with family and friends.
Our first year in Dublin is an experience we will never forget for several reasons and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is certainly one of those experiences. We started early to arrive about two hours before the parade started. The sun was out and the husband even changed out of his heavier jacket. We found a good spot on the parade route and met some nice folks. We were actually surrounded by Americans and Irish alike and tons and tons of kids. There were not many floats as I am accustomed to in America but plenty of visiting marching bands and performers. And then the temperature dropped and the rain started and it wouldn’t stop. I will admit that I had a crazy Dee Dee moment and insisted that we stayed to the end. I was waiting for the Big Bang. It never happened. We were frozen and miserable. But, we had that once in a lifetime experience that we will never forget! We ended the day by feasting and drinking with friends.
In addition to the parade in Dublin, smaller villages have smaller parades and celebrations of their own. The locals prefer to stay away from the big celebration in Dublin and Temple Bar.
The next year we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a smaller parade in the village of Bray. The kids had the opportunity to participate in the parade with the baseball team that Bigg Dogg was a member of at the time. The kids had so much fun but it was cold, rainy and snowy. We ended the day by watching the Ireland rugby team defeat England to win the Six Nations Cup. Side Note: It took a day for me to thaw.
This year we are taking the approach of being in Ireland long enough and not doing a thing. We are staying warm indoors. I am NOT cooking the Irish-American dish of corned beef and cabbage after my epic fail last year. The Glitter Princess will make chocolate chip cookies and I will make a fruit tray. We will watch the parade on tv or not. We’ll let the tourists have it this year.
What You May Not Know About St. Patrick’s Day
- St. Patrick was never canonized by the Catholic Church and is a saint in name only.
- Although the world goes green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, blue was the color associated with St. Patrick and is still the Irish Presidential Standard.
- According to Irish legend, the shamrock was used by St. Patrick to teach nonbelievers about the Holy Trinity.
- There is a shamrock ceremony held at the White House where the POTUS is presented with a crystal bowl of shamrocks. Although, the shamrocks are immediately destroyed after the ceremony due to Secret Service policy.
Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day was never an important celebration for our family, but it now holds a special place in our hearts and we will forever celebrate in some way. Please share in the comments below how your family celebrates St. Patrick’s Day.
Hugs and love,
More Posts For You: