BY LAUREN GANTENBEIN
On March 17 of every year, the world is full of green. From green beer to girls wearing shirts that say “Kiss Me I’m Irish” to Shamrock Shakes from McDonald’s, St. Patrick’s Day is a day full of celebration whether you are Irish or not. Around the United States, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in a variety of ways. Every year, the Chicago River is dyed green in celebration. Chicago, Boston, Savannah, New York, New Orleans, Detroit and many other cities within the United States hold elaborate parades. New York City is home to the largest parade in the world, a tradition since 1762, fourteen years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. The parade does not allow floats, automobiles or commercial aspects. Each year there are 150,00-200,000 marchers, bands, bagpipes and Irish dancers. This parade is a must-see in NYC and makes for a very memorable St. Patrick’s Day.
There are approximately 10,000 saints within the Catholic tradition and all of them have feast days on which they are honored and celebrated. So why is it that St. Patrick gets a holiday celebrated around the world? St. Patrick was not even born in Ireland: it is believed that he was born in Scotland and as a young adolescent spent a couple of years in Ireland as a slave. St. Patrick was eventually released from slavery. He returned home and became an ordained Catholic bishop. St. Patrick returned to Ireland and was said to have converted 135,000 people, established 300 churches and consecrated 350 bishops. He also used the three-leaf clover to teach Irish pagans about the Holy Trinity. St. Patrick was a prominent man in Irish society and the Irish honor him due to the fact the he brought Christianity to their country.
Today 34.5 million Americans claim to come from Irish heritage, about seven times the population of Ireland. It is no wonder that America feels the need to embrace the Irish culture and celebrate its Irish heritage once a year. St. Patrick’s Day also falls during Lent, a time of fasting in the Catholic culture. However, St. Patrick’s Day was and is seen as a break from Lent and a day to celebrate. St. Patrick’s Day is a great way to look back at where we came from and celebrate, whether you are Irish or not.
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the world. From Tokyo to Great Britain, everyone enjoys a day of being Irish. However, the best way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day would be in Ireland. In Dublin, St. Patrick’s Day is not just one day but rather a four-day celebration. From dancing to parades, there is something for everyone. County Armagh is where St. Patrick founded one of his many churches and they spend a week celebrating him. The Irish celebrate with traditional music, dancing, food and drink. Most businesses besides restaurants and pubs are closed. Ireland is the place to be for St. Patrick’s Day, but if you can’t make it there, it is still a day to celebrate and have fun. Remember, everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.