History of St. Patricks Day

History of St. Patricks Day

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  1. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th each year: the anniversary of the death of Saint Patrick, approximately around 460 AD. This day has been an observed Irish religious holiday for more than 1,000 years, but it was not until the 18th century in New York City that festivities as we know them today began taking place in the United States.

    Saint Patrick was born in Britain in the late 4th century, and at age 16 was taken prisoner by Irish raiders who ransacked his family’s estate. During his six years in captivity, he turn to religion for solace (his father was a Christian deacon). He escaped captivity when a voice – which he believed was God – told him it was time, and returned to Britain, where he began religious training. He returned to Ireland when his training was complete, ministering over those who were Christian and trying to convert those who weren’t. Thanks to Ireland’s traditions of oral legend and myth, much of Saint Patrick’s life was exaggerated, but he left a lasting legacy on the land.

    One of the most important Saint Patrick’s Day traditions today is the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. The first Saint Patrick’s Day parade took place in New York City in 1762, as Irish soldiers serving England marched through the streets. The parades grew over the next few decades to include immigrants and Irish groups. Today, the New York City parade is the largest in the country, with nearly 3 million people lining the 1.5-mile parade route.

    Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations today in the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, Singapore, and Russia are more flamboyant than the traditional religious celebrations that were seen in Ireland until the 1970s, when the government jumped on the tourism opportunity and the chance to showcase Ireland. Parades are popular throughout the United States; in Chicago, the unique event of dying the Chicago River green began in 1962 and continues today.

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