The History of Saint Patrick’s Day


Saint Patrick’s Day is an important holiday for the Irish. Graphic by L. Willis and M. Ford.

Saint Patrick’s day holds strong value to the Irish American community, but what significance does it really hold?

Saint Patrick’s day is celebrated with over 70 million people of Irish descent. According to Irish Central, 34.4 million Americans celebrate the holiday. Celebrations include Irish-themed parties, eating Irish food and drinks, and wearing green clothing. Many Irish pubs also hold parties and have special deals, and large cities also often have street parades. Because St. Patrick’s day is not a federal holiday, many businesses, schools, and public transport systems are open as usual.

First, you need to understand the origins and meaning behind St. Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17 every year. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. The day is celebrated on the anniversary of St. Patrick’s death. Before the commercialized events, this was a religious holiday. 

In the 1840s, many Irish immigrants made their way to America due to a potato famine in their homeland.  The Illinois News Bureau stated that “In some ways, Irish Catholics were America’s first ethnic group. They came with a distinct culture and built their own distinct communities.” Later, when other immigrants arrived, they found that the Irish culture was strong and dominated the streets and institutions of everyday life. For example, in 1920, the Irish took a lead against Ku Klux Klan attacks on immigrants and Catholics. Irish immigrants created a very established role in society. 

Now, the holiday is a way to show Irish Catholic identity and “mark one’s space in the face of credibility and discrimination”. The holiday is important as it celebrates the history that Irish immigrants created in the country, as well as around the world.