Throwback Thursday: St. Patricks Day

One of the world’s oldest international holidays is celebrated this week. While the
March 17th St. Patrick’s Day originated in Ireland over a thousand years ago, the
celebration of this patron saint can be found in countries across the globe. This
week, with the help of research from the History Channel, we tell the story of this
Irish holiday.

The history begins over a thousand years ago in Ireland. During the fifth century, St.
Patrick was born under the rule of ancient Rome. At the height of Roman power, its
empire stretched all over modern Europe, from the Mediterranean all the way to
current-day Britain and Ireland. St. Patrick was born under Roman rule in modern

When he was 16 years old, he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland to be sold
as a slave. He escaped, and the Irish say he brought Christianity to its people. They
say he used Ireland’s three-leaf shamrock clover to explain the Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit trinity. It’s believed St. Patrick died on March 17, 461, and the celebration of
his death was a huge feast. Afterward, he became the patron saint of Ireland.

It wasn’t until the ninth or tenth centuries that the Irish people began observing the
March 17 holiday. But, the first St. Patrick’s day parade did not take place in Ireland.
It was in North America, in 1601, at a Spanish colony in modern-day St. Augustine,
Florida. The Roman Catholic traditions were brought to America at its earliest
European colonizers.

Before the American Revolution, St. Patrick’s Day parades were common in New
York and Boston. They grew as Irish immigrants continued moving westward with
their families as the country grew. The Irish were not a favorite group in the early
years of America, as they faced prejudices and racism for their beliefs and traditions.
But soon American politicians realized the Irish vote was needed to win, and the
parades and holidays became widely popular for political candidates.

Today, the United States has the most St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the world.
Chicago dyes its river green for a few hours. Other cities have tried. Leprechauns, the
legendary figures similar to fairies and nymphs from Irish folklore, are associated
with the holiday, but few know leprechauns have their own holiday in May too.

That’s it for Throwback Thursday, brought to you by Hart County Tourism and the
Kentucky Museum. In Bowling Green, because local matters, Telia Butler, WNKY
News 40.