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March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day March 12, 2010

Posted by americanex in Uncategorized.

In March we celebrate spring, Women’s Day and one other holiday that is more than 1,000 years old – St. Patrick’s Day.

March 17 is the feast day of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland born in the fifth century. Saint Patrick is one of Christianity’s most widely known saints. His father was a Christian Deacon and while still young, Patrick was captured by Irish raiders and imprisoned for many years. While in prison, Patrick found strength in Christianity. When he was released, he was ordained a priest and spent his life converting the people of Ireland to Christianity.

Not everyone in America  is Irish or Christian, but almost every American celebrates St. Patrick’s Day. More than 100 of America’s largest cities celebrate with a parade. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place not in Ireland, but in the United States on March 17 in 1762. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched together through the streets of New York City playing music and singing.

The largest U.S. parades are held in New York City and Boston. Parades include marching bands, bagpipe players, Irish dancers, green chrysanthemums and sometimes even some Irish clowns. In New York City, more than 150,000 people march in the parade and more than 3 million people line the streets to watch.  

Chicago has a fun Irish tradition which started in 1962 – the city turns the Chicago River green! The city workers use 40 pounds of green vegetable dye, which keeps the water green for several hours.

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day also means eating special food. Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional dish eaten for this holiday. In fact, in the United States in 2007 approximately 41.5 billion pounds of beef and 2.6 billion pounds of cabbage were sold in March. Irish soda bread is also popular on this day; this is a b read made with baking soda instead of yeast.

There are many people of Irish decent living in America. Since 1820, more than 4.8 million immigrants from Ireland have been admitted to the United States. In 1845 when the Great Potato Famine hit Ireland, about a million poor Irish people came to America to escape starving to death.

Today, there are approximately 36.5 million people of Irish decent living in America. That is more than the population of Ireland!  In fact, people with Irish ancestry are the nation’s second largest ethnic group; the largest is German.

Whatever your nationality, St. Patrick’s Day is the one day a year when everyone can be Irish!


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