St. Patrick’s Day 2015 is here, and those looking to celebrate the annual day of everything Irish can look no further to find all the quotes, facts, and songs they will need.
The holiday is celebrated each year on March 17, honoring the death of St. Patrick, the patron Saint of Ireland. St. Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the 17th century, but has taken on a new meaning in modern times as a day to celebrate Irish heritage.
Oddly enough, the real St. Patrick wasn’t actually Irish. He was born in Britain in AD 385, and at age 16, was captured by Irish pirates and taken as a slave to Ireland. He lived there for six years before escaping and going back home, but he became a cleric and later returned to Ireland, where he would become an ordained bishop.
St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated in early America, with the Charitable Irish Society of Boston organizing the first observation of St. Patrick’s Day in 1737. The holiday became popular across a number of cities, including New York and Savannah, Georgia.
The holiday continued to grow in popularity in the mid- to late-1800s, as many Irish immigrants came to America and maintained their national customs. Today, many cities hold large St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, including Chicago which dyes its river green each year and Indianapolis where the main canal is dyed green.
There are some interesting stories behind the major symbols of St. Patrick’s Day. The shamrock, which is the most common symbol of the holiday, actually dates back to St. Patrick himself. The saint used the three-leaf clover to teach the concept of the Trinity as he converted the Irish to Christianity.
Another one of the major components of St. Patrick’s Day has nothing to do with Ireland at all. The traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage, at least as we know it today, was shaped not by Ireland but instead by Jewish neighborhoods in New York City, where many Irish immigrants settled.
“The Irish immigrants almost solely bought their meat from kosher butchers. And what we think of today as Irish corned beef is actually Jewish corned beef thrown into a pot with cabbage and potatoes. The Jewish population in New York City at the time were relatively new immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe. The corned beef they made was from brisket, a kosher cut of meat from the front of the cow. Since brisket is a tougher cut, the salting and cooking processes transformed the meat into the extremely tender, flavorful corned beef we know of today.
“The Irish may have been drawn to settling near Jewish neighborhoods and shopping at Jewish butchers because their cultures had many parallels. Both groups were scattered across the globe to escape oppression, had a sacred lost homeland, discriminated against in the US, and had a love for the arts.”
In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day 2015, here are some quotes to celebrate the holiday.
“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy” — William Butler Yeats
“We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English” — Winston Churchill
“Love is never defeated, and I could add, the history of Ireland proves it” — Pope John Paul II
An Old Irish Blessing
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
And, of course, St. Patrick’s Day 2015 wouldn’t be complete without some traditional Irish songs. First there is the classic “Danny Boy,” performed by the Irish Tenors.
For those looking for a more modern song to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day, the Boston Irish-punk group Dropkick Murphys are a great choice.
Looking for a song to end your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations? “The Parting Glass” is traditional Irish tune sung at the end of a night of drinking. Here is a great version performed by the late George Donaldson.
[Images via AllOverAlbany, Flickr]