The History Behind St. Patrick’s Day

Samara Scott on Mar 6, 2024 3:16:10 PM

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Like many people, I had no idea what St. Patrick’s Day celebrated. According to this poll conducted by Tullamore Dew (a leading Irish whiskey brand), out of 2143 people (21+), less than half knew St. Patrick was a patron saint of Ireland.

Other findings from the poll include:

  • Only 25% of participants knew St. Patrick was NOT born in Ireland (he was born in Britain)
  • 34% of participants thought the holiday celebrated the day of his birthday instead of marking the day of his death
  • Around 25% of participants believe St. Patrick chased all the snakes out of Ireland (based on the myth)

Who was St. Patrick?

Born in Roman Britain during the 5th century, St. Patrick was taken to Ireland as a slave at 16. Credited with introducing Christianity to Ireland,  He was well known for explaining the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) through the national clover, a shamrock.

The History Behind the Holiday

The first St. Patrick's Day parade was held by a Spanish colony in 1601 in current-day St. Augustine, Florida.

On March 17th, 1772, homesick Irishmen in the English military marched through New York to celebrate St. Patrick. From here, the holiday began to grow.

Irish patriotism began to rise over the next 35 years among American immigrants, leading to Irish Aid societies such as the Sons of St. Patrick and the Hibernian Society. These societies began holding annual parades featuring drums and bagpipes (even though they came from the Scottish and not the Irish).

In 1848, many Irish Aid societies united to form an official New York City Parade. With over 150,000 participants today, the 1.5-mile parade route is lined with around 3 million onlookers to witness a glimpse of the 5-hour parade.



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