Whether you hail from the Emerald Isle or not, Saint Patrick’s Day is undoubtedly one of the most exuberant and vibrant holidays of the year. Why we don our shamrock-adorned and tricoloured garb varies from person to person, encompassing a spectrum of meaning, from a Guinness-fuelled boogie to a patriotic celebration of Irish cultural history. With the occasion just around the corner, join us for a look at the history of this remarkable holiday.
Observed as a religious holiday in Ireland for over a millennium, Lenten restrictions were put aside as Irish families feasted on bacon and cabbage. Indeed, the tradition of wearing green is believed to commemorate Saint Patrick’s use of the shamrock in his teachings. The holiday’s association with Guinness however, did not materialise until recent years, as Irish laws originally prohibited the serving of alcohol in pubs during Lent. Said ban has since been lifted, and it is now estimated that 13 million pints of Guinness are served across the globe on 17 March.
The first Saint Patrick’s Day parade did not take place in Ireland, but rather in New York, USA. First observed in 1762 by Irish soldiers in the English military, the tradition of the New York parade is older than the United States itself. With more people of Irish heritage living in America – approximately 33 million – than in Ireland itself, Saint Patrick’s Day is now celebrated across America. And by no one more notably than Chicagoans, who mark the occasion each year by dyeing the Chicago River green. This practice began almost by accident in the 1960’s, when environmental officers used dyes to trace pollution, before realising the green dye was a fitting tribute to the Emerald Isle.
Further afoot from Ireland and the USA, Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated across the globe. Famous landmarks and sights are lit green, from the London Eye, to the Pyramids at Giza, to the Great Wall of China.
This 17 March, get in the spirit and celebrate everything the wonderful nation of Ireland has given us – be it atom-splitting (Ernest Walton, 1932) or Guinness (Arthur Guinness, 1759). Not to mention a good aphorism, as the popular Irish toast goes: “May the roof above us never fall in, and may we friends beneath it never fall out.”
Every year Revitalise hosts a Shamrock & St Patrick’s themed week, which in previous years has included everything from Irish dancing to whiskey-tasting. If you are interested in joining us on the week commencing 17 March, just call our friendly Bookings Team on 0303 303 0145, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or book online.