Saint Patrick’s Day! The day to drink green beer, celebrate the “wearing of the green,” or get pinched for not celebrating the wearing of the green. In many parts of the world, Saint Patrick’s Day means parades, festivals, music, shamrocks, and lots of good food and drink. But what are the origins of Saint Patrick’s Day, where are the best celebrations, and how can you get there?
How Saint Patrick’s Day Came to Be
Traditionally, Saint Patrick’s Day is known as the “Day of the Festival of Patrick,” and is held on March 17 to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland. The holiday became an official Christian feast day in the 17th century, and has become a day to celebrate Irish culture and heritage.
Saint Patrick himself was a 5th-century missionary and bishop. According to the Declaration (written by Patrick himself) he was kidnapped by Irish raiders at the age of sixteen and made a slave in Ireland. There, he worked as a shepherd for years until God told him to flee to the coast, where a ship would take him home. Patrick later returned to Ireland to convert the pagans there to Christianity, and (according to the Declaration) succeeded in converting thousands. The legend of Patrick driving “snakes” out of Ireland is an allegory for the pagan druids.
Celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day
Though Saint Patrick’s is officially a religious holiday, it has become synonymous with feasting and drinking and celebration. Traditions include “drowning the shamrock,” which involves putting a shamrock in the bottom of a cup, filling it with whiskey, and drinking a toast (shamrock and all).
Wearing shamrocks and green clothing is also traditional on Saint Patrick’s Day, as (according to legend) Saint Patrick used a shamrock to explain the Trinity to the pagans. Green has also been a color associated with Ireland for centuries.
So where should you celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in the United States? Suffolk County, Massachusetts, where Boston is located, is the only place in the nation where Saint Patrick’s is an official holiday, although it’s widely recognized everywhere as a chance to party. There are, however, many cities and towns across the country that are particularly famous for their Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations:
- Buffalo, New York, which runs two parades each year. Its “Old Neighborhood” parade for the last 23 years, and the “Buffalo Saint Patrick’s Day Parade” is the third largest in New York State.
- Butte, Montana, a mining town with a large Irish population and a parade and music festival that brings 30,000 people a year
- Holyoke, Massachusetts, where over 300,000 people gather for what is claimed to be the second-largest parade in the U.S. Over 25,000 people march in the parade, which is part of a weekend-long celebration.
- Las Vegas, Nevada, where a massive Saint Patrick’s Day parade is only a part of a three-day carnival, festival and car show.
Looking to book a trip for a Saint Patrick’s Day blowout? It’s the perfect day for a renting a charter bus or full-on party bus. Metropolitan Shuttle is here to take the hassle out of planning and scheduling a trip for your big Saint Patrick’s day celebration. Call or contact us for a quote and let’s get this party started!