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St. Patrick's Day

by River Seiler on 2023-03-13T08:00:00-05:00 in Language and Literature | 0 Comments

Hi everyone! 

As Chicago-area residents, you're probably looking forward to the St. Patrick's Day parades around the city and seeing the Chicago River dyed green. But have you ever wondered why St. Patrick's Day is celebrated? 

Who Was St. Patrick?

You might have heard the legend that St. Patrick banished snakes from Ireland. This legend is really an allegory for St. Patrick's eradication of Irish paganism and animism - the primary Irish religions before Christianity (from Jennie Cohen's "St. Patrick's Day Legends and Myths Debunked" for Modern-day Irish Druids view St. Patrick as playing a large role in the destruction of their religious artifacts like Druidic texts and Druidic holy sites, as well as the forced conversion of many Druids to Christianity (from Crom Abú's "The True Story of St. Patrick" for Celtic Druid Temple).

This might lead you to believe that St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland - but many of the residents of Ireland were already aware of Christianity as a religion long before St. Patrick began preaching in Ireland, and some had already converted (from Jennie Cohen's "St. Patrick's Day Legends and Myths Debunked" for the History Channel).

St. Patrick's Day in America

The popularity of St. Patrick's Day parades in America began in New York City on March 17, 1772, when "homesick Irish soldiers serving in the English military honor the Irish patron saint" (from's editors' "History of St. Patrick's Day" for Enthusiasm for the holiday grew in other American cities. In 1848 New York Irish Aid societies came together to create an official New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade (from's editors' "History of St. Patrick's Day" for 

Beginning in 1845, as the Great Potato Famine (for more information on the Great Potato Famine read the linked article) resulted in nearly 1 million Irish Catholics immigrating to America, Irish immigrants in America began facing discrimination and prosecution (from's editors' "History of St. Patrick's Day" for Often barred from even menial jobs, Irish immigrants began to use St. Patrick's Day not only as a way of honoring their heritage, but also as a show of their political strength.

Today St. Patrick's Day is still celebrated in many cities across the United States. Each city celebrates with their own tradition. Chicago's famous green river began in 1962, when "city pollution-control workers used dyes to trace illegal sewage discharges and realized that the green dye might provide a unique way to celebrate the holiday" (from's editors' "History of St. Patrick's Day" for 

Books About Irish History


St. Patrick's Day Events in Chicago

If you're looking the celebrate St. Patrick's Day, there are a variety of events to choose from all over the city and surrounding neighborhoods:

Thanks for reading! We hope to see you in the Library again soon!

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