But how did this special day come about and why do we celebrate it on March 17?
WHO WAS SAINT PATRICK?
Saint Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland who lived from 387-461, according to Catholic.org.
“St. Patrick of Ireland is one of the world’s most popular saints,” Catholic.org writes. “He was born in Roman Britain and when he was 14 or so, he was captured by Irish pirates during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. At the time, Ireland was a land of Druids and pagans but Patrick turned to God and wrote his memoir, The Confession.”
Catholic.org reports St. Patrick used shamrocks to explain the Holy Trinity and “entire kingdoms were eventually converted to Christianity after hearing Patrick’s message.”
After preaching in Ireland for about 40 years, he died on March 17, 461. We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day annually on March 17 to commemorate his passing.
According to History.com, since the ninth or 10th century, Ireland has been observing the Roman Catholic feast day of Saint Patrick on March 17.
ST. PATRICK’S DAY IN AMERICA
According to The Washington Post, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in America, not Ireland.
The WaPo reports a St. Patrick’s Day parade was held on March 17, 1601, in a Spanish colony now known as St. Augustine, Florida.
In New York City in 1772, Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched to honor Saint Patrick which caused the enthusiasm for the holiday to spread to Boston and other cities across America, according to History.com.
In 2017, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported 139 million Irish and non-Irish individuals celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in the United States.
ST. PATRICK’S DAY SAFETY
The popular holiday can be fun if everyone celebrates responsibly.
Unfortunately, it often ends with risky drunk drivers taking to the streets when the parties end. Drunk driving accounts for nearly one-third of vehicle-related fatalities in the United States.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) fatal-crash data, in 2016, 60 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes over the St. Paddy’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 – 5:59 a.m. March 18).
Take precautions and learn some safety tips before the festivities begin.
If you’re attending a celebration:
- Before attending any festivities, choose a designated driver, who is responsible for driving a group of friends home.
- If someone is attempting to drive drunk, stop them and call a taxi or loved one.
- Pace alcoholic drinks throughout the night, and consume a glass of water between every drink.
- Attend with a group of trusted friends, who will have each other’s best interests in mind.
- Never leave drinks alone or accept a drink from a stranger to help prevent the chance of consuming a drugged beverage.
- Never ride in a car with a drunk driver.
- Consume a large meal before drinking any alcohol, and eat when drinking because it will help reduce hangover symptoms.
- Call law enforcement immediately after seeing someone intoxicated drive away.
And don’t forget, COVID-19 has not gone away. Socially-distanced celebrations and masks are still highly encouraged by federal and state officials.