March Celebrates the Irish
We’ve finally arrived at Mardi Gras Day which is Tuesday, March 5th or Fat Tuesday, the last day of the Carnival season. At this point I think I’ve written enough about Mardi Gras to last me a lifetime – but not really!
From mid-January and all through the month of February I wrote about the parades leading up to this annual event and the colorful history of Mardi Gras both in New Orleans and elsewhere. I’ve also dug up lots of info about where to drink, eat and have fun in New Orleans during your stay in The Crescent City. Be sure to check out all these blogs. Now we’re on to the month of March and new topics for the coming of spring and summer.
ST. PATRICK’S DAY IN NEW ORLEANS
Every year it’s more than a one-day celebration in New Orleans. Festivities span several days with parades, block parties and more. This year, St. Patrick’s is on Sunday, March 17th – but you’ll find the residents and visitors to this fair city celebrating with great gusto before the actual day.
WHY IS ST. PADDY’S A NATIONAL EVENT?
St. Patrick, who this holiday is named after, is credited with bringing Christianity to the Irish people. Legend has it that St. Patrick bravely banished all the snakes from Ireland with just his faith and a wooden staff.
In the 10th century, the Catholics began observing the feast day of St. Patrick’s on March 17th – the anniversary of his death five centuries earlier.
WHERE WAS THE FIRST ST. PATRICK’S PARADE?
Believe it or not, the first St. Patrick’s parade was in America, not Ireland. This parade took place on March 17, 1763 as Irish soldiers serving in the military marched through New York City celebrating, dancing and playing music.
WHEN WAS THE GREAT POTATO FAMINE?
It hit Ireland in 1845, causing nearly one million Irish to flock to America. As a result, the St. Paddy’s parades began to grow over the next few years. By 1848, Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade became the official parade for St. Paddy’s and, today it’s the largest in the U.S. with more than 150,000 participants and nearly three million parade watchers.
WHERE ELSE IS ST. PATRICK’S CELEBRATED?
As of 2019, St. Patrick’s is celebrated in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Savannah (in addition to New Orleans and New York). In 1962, Chicago started dying the Chicago River green as homage to this holiday – a tradition the still holds true today. It’s also celebrated in countries across the world, from Russia and Australia to Canada and Japan.
A QUICK OVERVIEW OF ST. PATRICK’S DAY
Dealing With Leprechauns
These “little people of Ireland,” who come from Irish folklore, wear green because it makes them invisible. If you catch one you get three wishes
Finding a Shamrock
This small plant with three leaves on each stem represents one part of the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – they are not to be confused with the lucky four-leaf clover
Wearing Green Garb
We wear green on St. Patrick’s Day because of a leprechaun legend: it makes us invisible: meaning there’s no pinching. If one slips up and doesn’t wear green – you’ll get pinched
Eating Corned Beef
This St. Paddy’s dish was created as a cheap substitute for poor Irish American immigrants whose traditional favorite was bacon. It was very pricey in the US so they turned to corned beef to remind them of home. My opinion: I think corned beef and cabbage with boiled potatoes slathered in butter and a dash of pepper and salt is delicious.
Drinking Green Beer
Beer was the most affordable option for Irish American immigrants to celebrate their culture – the green additive didn’t happen until the 1950s – bartenders love it because it’s easy to make and even easier to drink. I think we’re dealing with some Irish malarkey here.
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