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March 17, 1759

St. Patrick’s Day

By —— Bio and Archives--March 17, 2010

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imageQuebec City is where the first St. Patrick’s Day really started in Canada, with celebrations dating back to 1759, following the British conquest of New France. An official parade happens a week later than most other festivities. Of course anyone that knows anything about Canadian history we were not called Canadians until 1867.

In some cities, notably Toronto and Montreal, large scale St. Patrick’s Day parades are held, often on the Sunday closest to March 17. The parade in Montreal has been held every year since 1824. This year marks the 186th parade. In some places there are Irish cultural events. For instance, the Irish Association of Manitoba organizes a three-day festival of Irish culture in the week of St. Patrick’s Day.

People who have an Irish background or enjoy Irish culture may hold Irish themed parties and serve traditional dishes, such as Colcannon or Irish stew. Colcannon is a dish of mashed potatoes mixed with kale or cabbage and Irish stew is traditionally made with lamb and root vegetables.

Traditional Irish drinks include stout, a dark beer, and whiskey. Other parties may be themed around the colour green. Guests may be expected to wear green clothes and only green food and drink is served.

St. Patrick’s Day marks the feast day and anniversary of the death of a Christian missionary known as Patrick. He was born in the year 387, probably somewhere near the present day border between Scotland and England. At the age of 16, he was captured and taken to Ireland as a slave. During this period, he became very religious and after six years he fled back to his family.

Later in his life, he returned to Ireland as a missionary. He is said to have played an important role in converting the inhabitants of Ireland to Christianity and in ridding the island of snakes. However, there is no evidence that there have been any snakes in Ireland in the past 10,000 years. The “snakes” he drove out of Ireland may represent particular groups of pagans or druids.

It is believed that St. Patrick lived to be 100 years old and died on March 17 probably in the year 461 or 493 (according to different sources). St. Patrick is buried under Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County Down, and is one of the three patron saints of Ireland.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations were brought to Canada by Irish immigrants. The day is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland and a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland.

It really doesn’t matter if your heritage is Irish or not. It’s a day that can be fun for all. Get a designated driver, be safe, and always remember it’s our history, our country.

Ronald Wolf -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Ronald Wolf is a college graduate of a renowned journalism program at Niagara College in Welland, Ontario Canada. He has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines in three different countries. He is a former newspaper owner who specializes in photography and writing.

He presently resides in northwestern, Ontario Canada where he continues to research and write articles about Canadian history, Canadian paranormal and other interesting articles.

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