March 17th is officially recognized as Evacuation Day in parts of Massachusetts, and St. Patrick’s Day is an official holiday in Chatham County, Georgia. The day is observed as a celebration of Irish and Irish American culture. Celebrations include prominent displays of the color green, eating and drinking, religious observances, and numerous parades. The holiday has been celebrated on the North American continent since the late eighteenth century.
Every year on March 17, the Irish and the Irish-at-heart across the globe observe St. Patrick’s Day. What began as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland has become an international festival celebrating Irish culture with parades, dancing, special foods and a whole lot of green.
St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday known for parades, shamrocks and all things Irish. From leprechauns to the color green, find out how symbols we now associate with St. Patrick’s Day came to be, and learn about a few that are purely American invention.
The shamrock, which was also called the “seamroy” by the Celts, was a sacred plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolized the rebirth of spring. By the seventeenth century, the shamrock had become a symbol of emerging Irish nationalism. As the English began to seize Irish land and make laws against the use of the Irish language and the practice of Catholicism, many Irish began to wear the shamrock as a symbol of their pride in their heritage and their displeasure with English rule.
Belief in leprechauns probably stems from Celtic belief in fairies, tiny men and women who could use their magical powers to serve good or evil. In Celtic folktales, leprechauns were cranky souls, responsible for mending the shoes of the other fairies. Though only minor figures in Celtic folklore, leprechauns were known for their trickery, which they often used to protect their much-fabled treasure.
So whether you are of Irish decent, or Celtic history St. Patrick’s is full of history, fun, celebration and tons of green alongside of the Luck of the Irish! Shamrock Up and find your pot o’ gold!