March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day – Green, but why?

March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day – Green, but why?

St Patrick's Day, on March 17, remembers one of Ireland’s patron saints, St Patrick, who is also invoked against the fear of snakes and snakebites. In the United States, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York on March 17, 1762. It consisted largely of Irish soldiers. Today, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by wearing green, which symbolizes the return of spring as well as the Irish culture. Also prominent in this celebration is green beer, pointing back to Saint Patrick’s introduction of alcohol to Ireland.

Though St. Patrick's Day originated in Ireland, the parades, parties, and practice of dyeing rivers green is a purely American tradition and celebration of Irish-American pride.

Large, secular celebrations of St. Patrick's Day appeared in Ireland only after they'd become popular in the United States. Because Ireland's parades were inspired by American ones, they represent a "kind of reverse migration” with importing the American celebration.

Did you know?

Water is dyed green in public places in some towns. The most notable body of water that was dyed green was the Chicago River in 2005