St. Patrick’s Day Traditions Are For Everyone

In its country of origin, St. Patrick’s Day is traditionally a more solemn event that honors the Roman Catholic patron saint on March 17th, the date of his passing. In the Catholic church, as well as the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and Lutheran churches, the holiday also commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.

In the U.S., however, everyone has a chance to be Irish with lively and festive celebrations, sporting all shades of green, and drinking ample amounts of (green) beer. Independence Bunting would like to take a look at the ways in which we celebrate this lucky holiday!

Green Beer and Rivers

Most of what we call “traditions” of the day were invented here in the U.S., beginning around the 1700s with large groups of Irish immigrant populations. Today, bars throughout the nation serve lots of green beer and Guinness on this day and cities from Boston to Chicago, Tampa and more dye rivers green in celebration. It’s not just the rivers, either. Several cities, such as Savannah, dye fountains green and even the White House participates, with green-running waters in a fountain on the South Lawn.

Wearing Green

You might think this term refers to what color we’re supposed to wear on St. Patrick’s Day. It is, in a roundabout way. “The Wearing of the Green” is actually an old ballad about the Irish Rebellion of 1798; revolutionaries had adopted green as their color and wore clothes, ribbons and hats of that color and their supporters did too. Today, we wear it in tribute to the island itself.

The color for St. Patrick was actually blue, but over the years green was the adopted color for him and the holiday. Green is not only a nod to the ‘Emerald Isle,’ but it was also the color many Irish Catholics wore as well. Interestingly, the color for Protestants was orange and if you take a look at the Irish flag, you’ll see the green stripe on the left, orange on the right, with white in the middle. This is symbolic of the two religions existing together in peace.

The shamrock is another contributing reason for the green attire on St. Patrick’s Day. This plant was originally a symbol of the Holy Trinity, said to be used by St. Patrick in his religious teachings.

Green is also the color thought to grant immunity from the mischievous leprechaun pinch. This has since evolved into people pinching each other for lacking any green attire on St. Patrick’s Day. However, this lore of green-clad leprechauns pinching non green-clad folk is actually an American tradition. Original tales of leprechauns from Irish poets and novelists fitted them in red jackets adorned with gold lace and pointy red hats.

Parades and Festival

There is a discrepancy when the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held, but one thing is for certain: It wasn’t in Ireland. In fact, this is another tradition invented in America by the strong communities of Irish immigrants. One of the first well-documented parades is said to have taken place in 1737 in Boston. Another was hosted in New York, 1762. They were simpler promenades through the streets, with people dressed in traditional Irish wear. Well into the mid-1800s, the U.S. Irish population as well as community groups had grown exponentially in correlation with Ireland’s Great Famine. One of the groups called the Ancient Order of the Hibernians established part of a parade route up NYC’s Fifth Avenue in 1891 that is still followed today. By then, the parades were accompanied with brass bands and even bagpipes.

Today, everyone gets into the act, decorating parade routes with St. Patrick's Day bunting, pleated fans, flags, streamers and balloons. Parades and festivals celebrating everything Irish are common in New York, Indianapolis, Charleston, Denver and San Francisco, to name a few. Along with a large showing of supporters, you’ll see people dressed as leprechauns, lots of green beads and bands, either high school marching bands or groups of men playing the bagpipes.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

In Ireland, beef was expensive and many ate pork instead. However, immigrants found that pork was extremely expensive in the U.S., so they lived on the cheapest cuts of meat they could find. Living near other ethnic European immigrants, the Irish immigrants were first exposed to corned beef through Jewish delis and food carts. It was similar enough to their familiar Irish bacon, and used as an alternative to pork. On special occasions, they celebrated by treating themselves to corned beef fixed with cabbage, which was a thrifty alternative to potatoes. This new corned beef and cabbage dish was so easy, cost effective, and tasty that it exploded through the Irish community and became a main stay of Irish-American cooking.

Independence Bunting invites you to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with our high-quality buntings, fans, pull-downs and more. Decorate your space with a classy touch of bold and bright colours that will last year after year. We are also proud to say that all of our products are made and manufactured 100% in the U.S.A. Explore our site, or call us at 1-800-995-9129 for immediate assistance.