St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day is Ireland’s greatest national holiday as well as a holy day. The date marks the anniversary of the death of the missionary who became the patron saint of Ireland. It is a happy holiday for the Irish wherever they may be – in Dublin, New York City, Boston, or San Francisco. The day celebrated with parades, speeches, festive dinners, and dances. Green is the color of the day, with thousands of little cloth shamrocks worn even by those whose forefathers never touched the shores of Ireland.
It is known that St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. At the age of sixteen, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family’s estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian.
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. Suddenly, annual St. Patrick’s Day parades became a show of strength for Irish Americans, as well as a must-attend event for a slew of political candidates. In 1948, President Truman attended New York City ‘s St. Patrick’s Day parade, a proud moment for the many Irish whose ancestors had to fight stereotypes and racial prejudice to find acceptance in America.
Leprechauns are little make-believe fairies from Ireland. They are the little old men who are shoemakers for the fairies. They usually stand about 2 feet tall. Treasure hunters can often track down a leprechaun by the sound of his shoemaker’s hammer. The legend is that if you catch one you can force him to tell you where he hides his gold.