Saint Patrick’s Day: did you know?

By Jamila Cherif


For ages, people have been celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day, every year on March 17th. They are excited about parades, special foods, dances, with green everywhere in the city. But do they know its history?
Actually, St. Patrick’s Day was considered a religious feast day for Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. He introduced Christianity to Ireland following his capture and transport to Ireland by a group of Irish raiders who attacked his family estate in Britain. According to his writings, Patrick obeyed a voice which he believed to be God, speaking to him in dreams.
For over 1,000 years, Irish families have attended church on St. Patrick’s Day in the morning. But, in the afternoon they drink and enjoy the consumption of meat, even though it is prohibited during the Lenten season.
Have you ever asked why green is so symbolic on St. Patrick’s Day? People wear green and drink green beer, but knights in the Order of St. Patrick wore a different color, named St. Patrick’s blue. The use of green started when supporters of Irish Independence represented their cause, in the 18th century.
In New Orleans, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated for more than one day and on a high festive level – with parades, parties, and the traditional Irish dish: corned beef and cabbage.
Going back to the 17th century, Irish people immigrated to the southern United States, looking for a better life. Those who came to New Orleans worked on the construction of the New Basin Canal, and many unfortunately contracted yellow fever. The lucky survivors ended up settling in the Magazine Street area, which came to be known as the Irish Channel.
There are plenty of parades prior to St. Patrick’s Day. Molly’s at the Market parade takes place on Friday March 13; the Irish Channel parade is on Saturday March 14; and on Sunday March 15, the traditional Metairie parade rolls. Then on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, the Downtown Irish Club parade starts at 6 p.m. It even stops at a couple of drinking establishments, heading towards Bourbon Street. But that’s not all! There’s also Tracy’s Paddy’s Day Party and Parasol’s Block Party on Wednesday March 18. And last but not least, the following day brings the Louisiana Irish-Italian Parade in Metairie, starting at noon which also celebrates Saint Joseph, patron saint of children.

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