Friday, 18 March 2011

St Patrick and the fun parade/day created by Irish-Americans

Saint Patrick's Day in New York begins at 11am when the parade starts to a rather (early-ish- by Uk standards) finish at 10/11 in the bars in NY, (though they will have started to drink at 4pm probably) it's such a great vibe, of music and celebration, in a sea of green clothes-  me included!
If you don't wear green apparently people pinch you affectionately.. I'm guessing on the cheek- I'm also guessing they're the ones on your face. :)

For once my brown face and British accent, with my green jumper, were just a glimpse in the crowd.
Sadly I haven't always had the same tolerance at home if I am totally honest, I felt more comfortable here, alone in the crowds with my camera, than I would in the UK or in the parade in London.
It was so mixed in diversity and socially (and drinking hadn't started), people encouraged you to take part in the cheers and shouting to the walkers in the parade.
Firefighters of Manhattan
Firefighters of Brooklyn and Queens

Army and Navy- no pun to the shop intended..
All those in service in someway were in the parade, firefighters, police, army, navy, air force, even sanitation people. I think it'd be nice to celebrate these people who keep us safe and clean too in London, it's a great way to recognise their service in a happy and fun way rather than just memorial days.
There were a number of schools and marching bands from all over the country, as well as some Irish counties being represented, and some political figures of New York dotted in here and there.
NYC Police in shades...

When the drinking did start  everyone was singing along with the tunes in the bars, the men in uniform pretty much had their pick of the ladies, and I'm sure the ladies in uniform benefited too and everyone was in a great mood! One big street party... almost!

So from living so close to Ireland for so much of my life, I realise that I knew nothing really of the story of St Patrick, then a wise lady on Facebook, informed me that St Patrick's Day and all it's festivities were invented by the Americans?!
Surely not, I thought but on the national geographic website Phillip Freeman of the Luther College of Iowa describes: St Patrick wasn't even Irish, but born in Britain. "At 16, Patrick's world turned: He was kidnapped and sent overseas to tend sheep as a slave in the chilly, mountainous countryside of Ireland for seven years.
According to folklore, a voice came to Patrick in his dreams, telling him to escape. He found passage on a pirate ship back to Britain, where he was reunited with his family.
The voice then told him to go back to Ireland.
"He gets ordained as a priest from a bishop, and goes back and spends the rest of his life trying to convert the Irish to Christianity," Freeman said.
Patrick's work in Ireland was tough—he was constantly beaten by thugs, harassed by the Irish royalty, and admonished by his British superiors. After he died on March 17, 461, Patrick was largely forgotten. But slowly, mythology grew around Patrick, and centuries later he was honored as the patron saint of Ireland."
Freeman agrees "St. Patrick's Day was basically invented in America by Irish-Americans".
This is probably true, because the majority of Irish immigrants, who numbered one in four back then, in the US were Protestant and so would not have celebrated this as a religious festival. But more as a connection to their homeland. And invent a good time they did! Of course it's celebrated in Ireland, but it's called a festival, looks very creative and inclusive too- heres some pic's from Dublin this year.

Today in New York it felt you didn't have to be Irish to take part; besides, St Patrick wasn't Irish either!

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