St. Patricks Day – a Brief History

  1. St Patricks Day was originally a Roman Catholic holiday celebrating Ireland’s patron saint in Ireland only.
  2. In the 1700s Irish people in the U.S. started the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City.
  3. The tradition of wearing a specific color on March 17th began with the color blue, but changed to green over time. It was in honor of Ireland’s nickname “The Emerald Isle”. The flag contains a green panel.
  4. The flag also contains white and orange panels. Catholics wear green and Protestants wear orange. The white in the middle represents peace between the two groups. There is a legend that wearing green makes the person invisible to leprechauns who like to pinch people. I posted a link to share more information. 
  5. Food is an important part of the celebrations. I posted a second link for some interesting recipes. Soda bread recipe is included. Irish potato cakes are there to remind us that the common white potato is an Irish potato which was an important food in Ireland.
  6. There is a green cake recipe made with green tea and coloring. It looks yummy. 1845-1852 marked a terrible time in Ireland. Poor farmers depended on potatoes as their staple food. A blight destroyed their harvest. Many people died of starvation. a web search reveals multiple causes with a variety of scientific data. I will not go into that in this post.
  7. What would it take to convince 400,000 people to stand on the banks of a river for five hours and oohing and aahing when there is no concert and no boat races for entertainment? 100 pounds of chemical turning the water green, that’s what.
  8. It is one of those things that begins for one reason and ends for another reason. In 1962 the city was concerned about the polluted water in the Chicago River. They wanted to discover where the pollution was being dumped. The test was to turn the water green. Over a period of years, the amount of chemical was reduced to 25 pounds. Environmentalists worried the dye was causing a bigger problem than the original pollution issue. Vegetable-based dye was substituted for the oil-based dye. This new dye was orange which turned green when it entered the water. The original dye kept the water green for a week. The new dye only lasts five hours.
  9. Now, five hours of green river has become part of the St. Patricks’ Day Parade on March 17th.




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