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Is St Patrick's Day more American than Irish?

Here's an interesting question: is Saint Patrick's Day actually more American than Irish? Considering that Saint Patrick's Day is now celebrated worldwide on March 17th and there are certainly plenty of celebrations commemorating it in Ireland, that might seem like a strange question. However, when you learn the history of Saint Patrick's Day as a popular holiday you might come to the conclusion that yes it is in fact an American, or more specifically an American Irish immigrant holiday. Although Saint Patrick's Day has been celebrated in Ireland for centuries, it originated as a holy day to commemorate the death of Saint Patrick, the missionary credited with spreading Christianity to Ireland. In fact it was such a somber day that pubs were actually closed on Saint Patrick's Day to celebrate the holy day. In the 1800s during the Irish famine the great Irish diaspora occurred with most Irish immigrants heading to the US. They were not greeted with open arms. There was an immigration backlash against the Irish and they were viewed as uncivilized, dirty drunks coming to take the jobs in the United States. There were even signs posted saying “no Irish served here” in restaurants and shops. As a reaction to this contempt, the Irish immigrant community in the United States rallied together to celebrate their heritage and thumb their nose at the anti-immigrant sentiment. They threw huge parties – including a large one in New York City, which to this day remains one of the hotbeds of Saint Patrick's Day celebrations with a parade that brings in four times as many spectators as the Saint Patrick's Day parade in Dublin. It was actually the televised displays of these over-the-top American Saint Patrick's Day celebrations that really brought the party atmosphere back to Ireland and in the 1990s more of a celebratory style took over Saint Patrick's Day in Ireland. The day as we know it now, a marketer’s dream with all things green, shamrock and leprechaun, speaks volumes of the American Irish immigrant influence on the celebration of this high holy day.


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