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February 27, 2019

10 Best St. Patrick's Day Celebrations

Savannah, GA is home to a unique 3-day St. Paddy’s party that is, without a doubt, America’s best St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Savannah’s parade features more than 350 marching units and up to 15,000 people, including Irish dancers and pipe bands from all over the East Coast. The festivities draw crowds of more than 300,000. Keep reading for 9 more of our favorite places to celebrate all things green.

How did a religious holiday, celebrating the Christian St. Patrick and the coming of Christianity to Ireland, become the world’s favorite day to drink green beer and get rowdy?

Well, the answer is — immigration.

As the Irish emigrated all over the world, so did St. Patrick’s Day. And now, the holiday is an even bigger tradition in certain parts of the world than it is back in Ireland. Though for many, the day has lost its religious significance.

Instead, St. Paddy’s has become a great excuse to wear green, throw a parade, drink green beer, and celebrate all things wonderful about Irish heritage.

It makes sense that big cities like Boston and New York have great St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, since they were the first stop for many Irish immigrants as they traveled to America.

But what about O’Neill, NE or Enterprise, AL? Truth is, lots of small and unexpected American towns go all out for St. Patrick’s Day. We’ve come up with a list of America’s 10 Best St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations. You never know — maybe one of these celebrations happens just outside your door.

Irish Immigration

As the Irish emigrated around the world, particularly to America, so did St. Patrick’s Day. Now, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau survey, 10.5% of the total U.S. population reports Irish ancestry. But when, how, and why did the Irish come to America?

Prior to the American Revolution, most Irish people came to America to escape religious and political persecution. But the very first wave of the Irish coming to America came as involuntary indentured servants. In other words: slaves.

The Irish had no love for the British, and fought fiercely in the American war of independence. In fact, General Robert E. Lee is famously quoted as saying that “half the rebel Continental Army were from Ireland.” After the war, Irish immigration to America significantly increased, inspired by the American ideals of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

And Irish immigration grew even further as American industrialization led to the need for laborers. This increase led to a lot of anti-Irish sentiment in America.

In the mid-19th century, Ireland was rocked by a terrible famine that’s come to be known as the Irish Potato Famine. Entire fields of potatoes turned black and rotted in the ground. Many Irish fled to America as a matter of survival.

Over the centuries, many other social and economic factors have influenced Irish immigration to the U.S. What’s for certain is that Irish heritage is now an important part of the American identity.

The Symbols of St. Patrick’s Day

Christmas has Santa Clause, Easter has the Easter Bunny. St. Patrick’s Day has its own set of symbols.

But where did they come from?

Here’s the story of 2 of St. Paddy’s most enduring icons: the shamrock and the color green.

The Shamrock

In pagan Ireland, 3 was a meaningful number. The religion of the time had many triple deities, not unlike Christianity’s Holy Trinity, or the 3 leaves of a shamrock.

It’s thought this belief in the power of 3 provided a talking point for St. Patrick as he evangelized Ireland. He is often depicted with a cross in one hand, and a sprig of shamrocks in the other.

The Color Green

It’s widely believed the first association of Ireland with the color green came about in the 11th century, in the book Lebor Gabála Érenn, or The Book of the Taking of Ireland. The text tells the story of Goídel Glas, the eponymous ancestor of the Gaelic people.

In the story, Goídel Glas was bitten by a snake, only to be saved by Moses placing his staff on the snakebite. Goídel Glas retained a green mark where he was bitten as he led his people to a land free of snakes.

Over the years, the color green has been used on a variety of Irish flags and symbols, coming to be closely associated with Irish national heritage.

St. Patrick’s Day Fun Facts

Here are a few St. Patrick’s Day fun facts. With these in your back pocket, you’ll definitely sound like the smartest person at the Irish pub up the street (the smartest person dressed like a leprechaun, that is).

St. Patrick wasn’t Irish

Though closely related to the history of Ireland, St. Patrick was really born to Roman parents in Scotland or Wales in the late 4th century.

New Yorkers love St. Patrick’s Day

New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the world’s largest. Since 1762, 250,000 marchers have made their way up Fifth Avenue on foot — no floats or vehicles allowed. When it comes to St. Patrick’s Day, New York does it old school.

St. Patrick’s Day used to be a dry holiday

Here’s a fact that might make you spit out your Guinness: Being a national religious holiday in Ireland meant that for most of the 20th century, there was no booze allowed at any Irish St. Patrick’s Day event. The pubs were required to close on the holiday. But don’t worry — that all changed in 1970, when the law was overturned.

Sorry…there were never any snakes in Ireland

The story of St. Patrick driving snakes out of Ireland has largely been refuted by the fossil record. Ireland has always been too cold for snakes.

Corned beef, hold the corn

Corned beef is a popular dish to serve on St. Patrick’s Day. But the corn right there in the name of the dish doesn’t refer to actual corn. Instead, the “corn” in corned beef refers to the large grains of salt historically used to cure meat, also referred to as “corns.”

Now you’re up to speed and feeling the love for all things St. Patrick’s Day. Let’s waste no more time and get to our ranking of America’s 10 Best St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations.

1. Savannah, GA
2. Kansas City, MO
3. Buffalo, NY
4. Fort Collins, CO
5. New London, WI
6. Hot Springs, AR
7. O'Neill, NE
8. Enterprise, AL
9. Tampa, FL
10. Madison, WI


Copyright 2019 Rave Reviews. All rights reserved. From https://www.ravereviews.org. By William Kennedy.
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