St. Patrick's Day
For centuries, many have celebrated St. Patrick's Day on March 17th. More specifically, the Irish have observed this as a religious holiday for over a thousand years. St. Patrick's Day has always been celebrated on the anniversary of the saint's death. Traditionally, Irish families would attend a Christian service in the morning and celebrate later in the afternoon on this historic holiday, waiving the Lenten restrictions.
However, like many holidays, St. Patrick's Day has become somewhat Americanized and commercialized. Despite what most people may believe, most traditions that we have come to associate St. Patrick's Day with were not developed by the Irish, but by the Americans. For example, the first St. Patrick's Day parade was held on March 17, 1762. In the first parade, Irish soldiers serving in the English army walked to help connect their roots back to their country. This tradition continued to flourish and develop, and by 1848 a number of New York Irish Aid societies united each of their individual parades to form what is now known as the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade. That parade is now the world's oldest civilian parade, and with over 150,000 people involved, it is the largest in the United States.
Before the turn of the 19th century, many Irish immigrants were made fun of, especially in the newspapers of the time, and ridiculed for their strange accents and habits. After some time though, these Irish began to form a large political machine, which was known as the "green machine," in order to voice their opinions. The "green machine" really began to promote the holiday and parades of the St. Patrick's Day, as it became a symbol of strength to the Irish people and a way to win political support.
Today, St. Patrick's Day is not only celebrated by the Irish and Americans; it is celebrated in many countries all around the world, such as Canada and Australia. The author of "St. Patrick's Day" writes:
"In modern-day Ireland, St. Patrick's Day has traditionally been a religious occasion. In fact, up until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on March 17. Beginning in 1995, however, the Irish government began a national campaign to use St. Patrick's Day as an opportunity to drive tourism and showcase Ireland to the rest of the world. Last year, close to one million people took part in Ireland 's St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin, a multi-day celebration featuring parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions and fireworks shows."
"Top Destinations to Visit for St. Patrick's Day 2010"