How did St. Patrick’s Day originate and when was the tradition of serving corned beef and cabbage first celebrated?

St. Patrick’s Day is only about a hundred years old, and it didn’t actually originate in Ireland.

It came from ye old Emerald Island, Manhattan in New York City, at the beginning of the 20th century, when Irish immigrants to New York’s Lower East Side adopted corned beef from their Jewish neighbors.

Another tradition that came from the New World, not Ireland, is the drunken revelry of the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Back in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day had been a religious holiday meant for quiet reflection and church, in fact, pubs in Ireland were closed on St. Patrick’s Day until the 1970s, but Irish Americans decided it was an occasion to show off their numbers and political clout by marching through big cities.

Eventually, the Ireland Irish followed suit.

Still another Irish tradition that came from America, not Ireland, is that of the friendly, mischievous leprechaun. Even though the legend of leprechauns existed back in Ireland, the little green guys were a nasty race you wouldn’t want to meet up with.

But Disney and Lucky Charms cereal helped put an end to that image.

Chicago started dyeing its river green on St. Patrick’s Day in 1962. It’s vegetable dye, believed to be harmless.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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