Green, green, and more green. It is the first thing that many people think when they hear the words: St. Patrick´s Day. To this, we can also add: shamrocks, leprechauns, beer, and party all night. March 17, the day of the colour green and Irish folklore has become the national holiday most celebrated globally.
Iria Lozano, who attended last year’s celebration in Dublin says, “I bought a leprechaun hat and the city was lit up with green, even the most important monuments and rivers. Everyone was dressed in green, or as a leprechaun. You could smell Ireland in the air. Later, the people would go to the pubs or drink on the street. In fact, the street seemed like an enormous pub.”
However, these ideas about the day are false. The date celebrates the death of the Patron Saint of Ireland, a man devoted to God and the Irish people. Being back at home in Roman Britain, Patrick had a vision to return to the place where he had been previously captive, Ireland, and bring Christianity into the country. Patrick´s impact in Ireland was outstanding – he conducted 100,000 baptisms, constructed 300 new Churches, assigned countless priests and nuns, and even reached princes and paupers.
How did this solemn day turn into a holiday of extensive inebriation, parades, and festivals? Parties and parades were first introduced in America. According to Mike Cronin, a professor at Boston College, the day remained religious in Ireland until the 20th century, until it “became a public spectacle, with a military parade running through Dublin´s streets”. By 1996, the parade was transformed into a four-day event filled with music performances, treasure hunts, and a parade.
This event was called ‘St. Patrick´s Festival’ and still runs today. He said that the first recorded celebrations were held in America by Irish immigrants. Over the years, the day increased in popularity as more Irish immigrants reached America and became a public demonstration of Catholicism and Irish nationalism.
Niamh Lane, an Irish national says, “I believe America commercialized and made it into a massive holiday. I personally do not dislike this hype because it’s supposed to be a feast where the community gathers and celebrates what St. Patrick accomplished in Ireland.”
This idea of accepting a commercialised St. Patrick´s Day is something that the Irish have adapted to. The Irish Ambassador to Great Britain, Dan Mulhall, commented that Ireland is very fortunate to have a national day so widely recognised.
He continued, “St. Patrick´s Parades and the global greening are an opportunity for the Irish around the world to celebrate their Irishness, and promote Ireland.