St. Patrick ’s Day is known for parades, shamrocks, leprechauns, and all things green. Every year on March 17, the Irish and the Irish-at-heart celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Originally St. Patrick’s Day was a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland, now it’s an international event celebrating Irish culture with parades, dancing, special foods and a whole lot of green.
Those of you that know me know that I’m Italian, and that my heritage is important to me. What I don’t often talk about is my Irish side. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d share my Irish side with you.
I live in the Pittsburgh area, and we have the second largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the country. That’s right, the country. Rain or shine, the parade goes on, and not even the blizzard of 1993 cancelled the parade or kept the Irish and Irish-at-heart away. The Pittsburgh parade usually has more than 200,000 attendees, 23,000 participants including marching bands, floats, police, fire and emergency service agencies, and many Irish-heritage groups. Before the parade, a Mass is held with more than 500 faithful in attendance. Promptly at 10:00 a.m., the parade starts at Liberty Avenue and culminates at the review stand Downtown on the Boulevard of the Allies.
Walking down the streets, you see faces painted, green everywhere, and men and women in kilts. A smile here, a nod there, a conversation with a total stranger is a common occurrence. Face painting for kids, street performances, green beer, and Irish music and dance are a small part of what you will find on the streets in the Burgh.
What Irish celebration would be complete without food? There is much to choose from, including Irish stew, corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, bangers and mash, and anything made with Guinness, Jameson or Tullamore Dew whiskey, or Bailey’s Irish Cream.
Should St. Patrick’s Day fall on a Friday in Lent, the bishop will waive the Lenten rules to let the faithful celebrate their heritage.
Did you know Irish Facts
The color traditionally associated with St. Patrick was blue, not green.
St. Patrick banished all the snakes from Ireland is a myth. In fact, the island nation was never home to any snakes. The “banishing of the snakes” was really a metaphor for the eradication of pagan ideology from Ireland and the triumph of Christianity. Within 200 years of Patrick’s arrival, Ireland was completely Christianized.
Leprechaun: The original Irish name for these figures of folklore is “lobaircin,” meaning “small-bodied fellow.” In Celtic folktales, leprechauns were cranky souls, responsible for mending the shoes of the other fairies. Though only minor figures in Celtic folklore, leprechauns were known for their trickery, which they often used to protect their much-fabled treasure.
Leprechauns: there are no female leprechauns. If Irish folk tales are to be believed, the mystical beings are expressly male
Approximately 13 million pints of Guinness will be consumed worldwide on St. Patrick’s Day
The first St. Patrick’s Day celebration took place in America in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1737.
How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? We’d love to know.
For my writing friend, do you characters celebrate holidays? Even a villain or heroine needs to have something to celebrate. Share with us, we’d love to hear about it.