St. Patrick's Day
Today's St Patrick's Day celebrations have been greatly influenced by those that developed among the Irish diaspora, especially in North America. Until the late 20th century, St Patrick's Day was often a bigger celebration among the diaspora than it was in Ireland.
Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, céilithe (Irish traditional music sessions), and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. There are also formal gatherings such as banquets and dances, although these were more common in the past. St Patrick's Day parades began in North America in the 18th century but did not spread to Ireland until the 20th century.
The participants generally include marching bands, the military, fire brigades, cultural organizations, charitable organizations, voluntary associations, youth groups, fraternities, and so on. Recently, famous landmarks have been lit up in green on St Patrick's Day.
Oten, Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day. Perhaps because of this, drinking alcohol – particularly Irish whiskey, beer or cider – has become an integral part of the celebrations.The St Patrick's Day custom of 'drowning the shamrock' or 'wetting the shamrock' was historically popular, especially in Ireland. At the end of the celebrations, shamrock is put into the bottom of a cup, which is then filled with whiskey, beer or cider. It is then drank as a toast; to St Patrick, to Ireland, or to those present. The shamrock would either be swallowed with the drink, or be taken out and tossed over the shoulder for good luck.
Designed in 2002 by Gerald D Healy & Ralf L Hartwell Jr for the Holyoke St Patrick's Committee in Holyoke Massachusetts (which is home to the second largest St Patrick's parade in the USA), this tartan uses a variety of specially chosen colours: red, white & blue from the US flag; green white and gold from the Irish flag and the Parade Committee; green & white from the Holyoke Community College; purple & white from the Holyoke High School; green and gold from the Holyoke Catholic High School and black & gold from the Dean Vocational High School.
For more on how St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in various countries, click the Irish pipe band on parade!
Happy St. Patrick's Day!