Lucky From The Start: Saint Patrick’s Day

Lucky+From+The+Start%3A+Saint+Patrick%27s+Day

Anna Sturgeon, Staff writer

    St Patrick’s day is a day for green, good luck, clovers, rainbows, and of course the little pot o’ gold guardians, leprechauns. But what happened to bring about St Patrick’s day? 

It all began with a young St. Patrick, who was kidnapped by the Irish at age 16.  He escaped shortly after only to return on his own free will as a missionary. St Patrick was then credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. March 17th, the day presumed to be St Patrick’s death day, is the day that St Patrick is celebrated.

    The first actual St Patrick’s day parade wasn’t even celebrated in Ireland, it was held in America, located in what is now St. Augustine, Florida.  The parade was organized by the Spanish colony’s Irish vicar, Ricardo Artur.  Ricardo came to America before the other Irish fled from the potato famine.  

    When the Irish fled to America, “Irish AID” was created to help the Irish get on their feet.  The many “Irish aid” societies each had a separate parade for St Patrick’s day, but by 1848, the society United their parades into one official New York St Patrick’s Day parade. This is the oldest and largest parade in the US, with over 150,000 participants and nearly 3 million in-person viewers on a 1.5-mile route with a 5-hour procession filled with dancers and musicians. 

    The parade isn’t the only way people celebrate.  The annual dyeing of the Chicago River, turning the water green is a huge celebration.  This tradition began in 1962 when the city pollution-control workers used dye to trace illegal sewage discharge.  Originally, 100 lbs of vegetable dye were used to turn the river green for a week.  Now, to cut down the environmental damage, only 40 lbs of dye are used to turn the river green for only a few hours.

   Green is one of the most common things associated with St Patrick’s day, aside from leprechauns and shamrocks. Leprechaun translates to ‘small-bodied fellow’ and probably stems from the Celtic belief in fairies. They are known for being cranky, tricky, mending the shoes of their friends, and protecting their fabled treasure. Leprechauns have their very own holiday on May 13, which people celebrate by dressing up as wily fairies.  Shamrocks used to be called ‘Seamroy’ by the celts and were considered to be sacred.  They used to be a symbol of spring and rebirth before the English took over Ireland.  After the takeover, the Irish were banned from speaking their language and practicing Catholicism.  The Irish began to wear the shamrocks as a symbol of national pride, heritage, and displeasure with English rule.

    Music has always been important to the Irish, ever since the ancient Celts. The celts had an oral culture with, religion, history, and legends being passed down through generations by stories and songs.  However, after the English takeover, Queen Elizabeth 1 outlawed all music and decreed that all artists and pipers were to be arrested immediately, and hanged on the spot.  Despite this, traditional Irish bands today are making a comeback by using instruments that have been used for centuries.  These instruments include the fiddle, uilleann pipes (more elaborate bagpipes), tin whistle (a flute made of nickel-silver, brass or aluminum), and the bodhran (an ancient type of frame drum, traditionally used in warfare).