The Green Holiday: St. Patrick’s Day


Even though Saint Patrick’s Day is not a legal holiday in the United States, it is widely celebrated throughout the country to honor the Irish and Irish-American culture. According to, records show that [the first] St. Patrick’s Day parade was held on March 17, 1601 in a Spanish colony in what is now St. Augustine, Florida”. In addition to this information, cities with large amounts of Irish immigrants put together extravagant celebrations, with Boston holding its first parade in 1737 and New York having theirs in 1762. There are many other traditions associated with the holiday including shamrocks/four leaf clovers, leprechauns, wearing the color green, special food, and lots of green beer! 

St. Patrick was a patron saint of Ireland, and he had a rough childhood story: “Born in Roman Britain in the late 4th century, he was kidnapped at the age of 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave. He escaped but returned about 432 CE to convert the Irish to Christianity” (Britannica). St. Patrick established many churches, schools, and monasteries by the time he died on March 17, 461. Britannica says that “many legends grew up around him—for example, that he drove the snakes out of Ireland and used the shamrock to explain the Trinity. Ireland came to celebrate his day with religious services and feasts.” To add on, many people have associated leprechauns with Saint Patty’s Day for a long time, but does anyone know why? “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,” ( There aren’t any clear explanations as to why leprechauns are related to this holiday, but it is definitely a nostalgic belief!

There are many different ways to celebrate this holiday all around the world, but here in Boston, it has always been a big celebration. A parade is held in South Boston each year on the Sunday closest to March 17th, where hundreds of people attend and dress up in their festive colors! In addition to St. Patrick’s Day, this parade also celebrates the day that the British troops left the city, or better known as Evacuation Day which occurred on March 17, 1776, and also honors our brave military services and veterans (Boston Discovery guide). Additionally, people above the age of 21 participate in pub crawls where they “bar hop” to different irish pubs in the city making it a full day event with lots of irish food and beer. Most Irish bars will have a special for St. Patty’s day with hourly discounts and other sales that get people in the Irish spirit! There are also many 5k races in the Boston area that raise funds for seniors, education, and other causes. One of the biggest celebrations for St. Patrick’s day for college students is hosted at UMass Amherst, called the Blarney Blowout, usually held before March 12th. Thousands of college kids from all around the area meetup on campus. Saint Patrick’s Day is arguably one of the most fun unofficial holidays to celebrate with friends and family, by doing many different things!

Food is another important element of this holiday that is arguably the best part! Some of the traditional foods include Irish stew, which is usually made with beef, potatoes, shepherds pie, which is minced beef or lamb, topped with mashed potatoes, and baked. Caragh Coughlin, who talked about her family’s Irish traditions, said, “My parents make a boiled dinner every year on St. Patrick’s day.” A boiled dinner is another traditional meal that is made in one pot, which consists of corned beef brisket, carrot, potatoes, and cabbage. Mr. Ames says, “I traditionally eat an Irish meal on St. Patty’s day and it’s usually cornbeef and cabbage.” Each family celebrates differently and has different meals, which is one of the best parts about St. Patrick’s day- you can make it your own!

St. Patrick’s day is a fun and joyful holiday to celebrate by participating in parades, 5k races, pub-crawls, eating traditional foods, and much more! We celebrate this day to remember the brave St. Patrick and his intriguing childhood story, and to admire the great Irish culture! We encourage everyone to celebrate this amazing holiday by going out with friends and family and enjoying some Irish food.