Photo By: Brick Red http://www.flickr.com/photos/texasgreentea/123890998/sizes/z/in/photostream/
Americans across the country come together to celebrate St. Patrick’s day every year, but did you know that it is only a legal holiday in Suffolk County, Massachusetts? Massachusetts has always held a strong connection to Ireland as it was a popular destination for Irish immigrants ever since they began coming to the United States hundreds of years ago.
Many Irish Americans across the country celebrate St. Patrick’s Day every March 17 in honor of their Irish heritage. In fact every year since 1991, March has been proclaimed Irish-American Heritage Month by the US Congress or President due to the date of St. Patrick’s Day. However, Massachusetts has always had a particularly strong connection to the day ever since they were the first of the Thirteen Colonies to celebrate St Patrick’s day in 1737. A festival was organized by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston and during the celebration guests enjoyed a service of worship as well as a special dinner to honor their homeland. http://books.google.com/books?id=AWvXAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA15#v=onepage&q&f=false
Today, the reason for celebrating remains the same, what has changed is the way that we celebrate. In Ireland, St. Patrick’s day remains a largely religious holiday but in the U.S it has become a day known for extreme alcohol consumption and wearing the color green which is meant to represent Ireland’s “lush green farmlands”. http://homecooking.about.com/od/foodhistory/a/stpatdayhistory.htm
Massachusetts certainly loves to celebrate with a good parade. The famous St Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston has been taking place since 1804 and is listed as the second largest parade in the country. It features military units, firefighters, politicians, bands playing the bagpipes, and of course plenty of people dressed in green. Holyoke, MA also hosts a large parade and each year an Irish-American who has distinguished himself or herself in their chosen profession is awarded the John F. Kennedy National Award.
Massachusetts is undoubtedly one of the most historic and culturally diverse regions of the country and St Patrick’s day allows us to celebrate that diversity. Irish Americans struggled for years before they earned an equal place in society and had a huge impact on the people of Massachusetts and our culture as a whole.