Photo courtesy of Daniel Sklar

Saint Patrick’s day seems to be a big holiday here in the US. The grocery stores are stacked with green cupcakes, decorations of shamrocks hang everywhere and parades are held in downtown’s around the country. Children are told traditional Irish fairy tales while adults go out on beer drinking binges. But do we really know what this day is all about?

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17, the saint’s religious feast day and the anniversary of his death. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 years and it falls during the Christian season of Lent. St. Patrick was actually born in Roman Britain and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He is credited with bringing Christianity to the people of Ireland. St. Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity and that’s how the shamrock came to become an integral symbol of St. Patrick’s and the Irish.

St. Patrick’s Day is the official feast day celebrated by the Irish. It’s interesting to know that the first parade held to honor St. Patrick’s Day took place not in Ireland, but in the US. On March 17, 1762, Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as with fellow Irishmen serving in the English army. Over the years, patriotism spread to other cities and now more than 100 St. Patrick’s Day parades are held across the United States every year.

So, the tradition continued and here we are today…