Saint Patrick's Day, held on 17 March, is a cultural and religious celebration of Saint Patrick, the patron of Ireland.
Millions of people all over the world celebrate it including the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand who involve centuries-old traditions of celebrating this Day. In Ireland, it is a holiday of national importance. There are usually many parades during St. Patrick Day with thousands of peoples marching and carrying colorful banners. This day, vinyl banners are often used to represent the ideals of particular people or organizations who are trying to get their message across to the public. Vinyl banners are also a form of outdoor advertising.
St. Patrick’s Day: Facts and History
This day commemorates the arriving of Christianity in Ireland, as the foremost patron St. Patrick converted Irish to Christianity over nearly thirty years (The history and traditions of Ireland and St. Patrick, n.d.). When St. Patrick was a sixteen-year-old boy, Irish King captured him and sold into slavery. After becoming a priest, he changed his birth name Succat to Patricius and spent many years traveling the country. St. Patrick built churches and converted the pagan people to Christianity. He died on March 17 and was buried in Downpatrick, County Down in Ireland. The interesting fact is that he was not Irish as he was born in Wales in the fourth century. Besides, people celebrate the culture of the Irish organizing parades, wearing a green attire, eating Irish food, and drinking alcohol. The green color is associated with Ireland because of the green hills and fields of the country.
Myths and Legends
There are many legends about St. Patrick as a key part of Irish culture. One of the most famous ones says that he dismissed the main symbol of paganism - snakes. The truth is the island always had a very cold climate to be home to any reptiles. Moreover, the surrounding seas have guarded the land against snakes ever since the Ice Age.
Another legend is about the shamrock, the national symbol of Ireland. Using three-leafed green plant St. Patrick introduced Christianity to pagan Ireland. This way he explained the Catholic Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
There are some other legends, such as the legend of the Blarney Stone. It says if a person kisses the stone he/she will receive the gift to talk convincingly with the mellifluous and smooth voice. In addition, there is a legend about leprechauns, the Irish fairies. If people catch one, it has to give them treasure or may take their money if people are not attentive.
The History of St. Patricks’ Day Parade
It is impossible to imagine St. Patricks’ Day celebration without parades. In fact, Ireland was not the place where the first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place. It happened in New York City, the U.S. in 1762 (some say it was in Boston in 1737). Thus, Irish soldiers serving in the British army were able to reconnect with their roots. Participants wore green – a sign of Irish pride. They sang Irish songs, played the pipes to Irish tunes, spoke Irish – all things that were meaningful to the Irish immigrants.
Due to the increase of immigrants from Ireland to the United States, the St. Patrick’s Day celebration has become very popular. However, for most Irish people, the day remained primarily religious in the 20th century. It was not even a public holiday in Ireland until 1904 (How America Invented St. Patrick’s Day, 2015).
For the first few years, military units organized the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York. Later, Irish beneficial societies took the responsibility for hosting and sponsoring the event. In fact, the first Saint Patrick's Day military parade in Dublin was held in 1931. Later, it developed into a more general entertaining parade. Starting from 1996, there has been a St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin, an event of music and performances. A two-hour parade gathered many people in the streets of Dublin.
Nowadays St. Patricks’ Day Parade in New York is the biggest one as it contains several million spectators including local politicians, celebrities, floats, bagpipe, marching bands, and Irish organizations. Many people of not Irish origin celebrate and declare themselves Irish for a day. Usually, the Parade is dedicated to famous people or remarkable events. For example, in 2002, the parade in New York was dedicated to the heroes of 9/11. The year 2016 was the Ireland Centenary Year, and the Parade included about 200,000 marching people.
The Power of St. Patrick’s Day
Obviously, the St. Patrick's Day Parade became a political symbol of solidarity of the Irish with Americans. In the U.S., the holiday has survived and spread displaying Irish immigrants’ strength and identity who were eager to maintain their traditions. While celebrating Catholicism and patron saint with symbols and speeches, people praised the spirit of their nationalism as well as stressing their patriotic beliefs.
St. Patrick’s Day was a public declaration of beliefs in Ireland’s future as a free nation, its strong identity, and new values and liberties that they have gained in the United States of America. Nowadays, all over the United States of America, millions of people including the Irish and other nationalities celebrate this historical event identifying their cultural identity, enjoying St. Patrick’s Day parades, and engaging in general fun and revelry.
Banners on St. Patricks’ Day Parade
Banners are an important part of the culture and one of the most prominent types of Irish folk art. They are used few times throughout the year, especially on St. Patrick’s Day. In the past, banners were painted on silk or canvas. Banners were meant to show the allegiance of people carrying them as well as their political or religion views. They usually mean the opposition of one group of people to the other. Some of them have historical or allegorical meaning and are metaphors for religious principles.
Moreover, banners on St. Patrick’s Day Parade reflect the wishes of millions of people. They reflect the way previous generations felt about the occupation of their land and their desire to unite the country (Debate “Get England out or Ireland” NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade Banner, 2016).
Vinyl Banners for St. Patricks’ Day Parade
Nowadays, people often use vinyl banners on St. Patrick’s Day Parade. As vinyl banners have many applications, some of them are a form of outdoor advertising and promotion of a company's logo, a special team, school, pub, association, band, etc. Some banners identify authentic Irish people while other may include important information (like St. Patrick’s Day Parade’s time and place) or jokes.
Since parade’s policy on the matter of banners has appeared, it was meant that nobody would march under a political banner. The only exception to the banner policy was for banners regarding England leave Ireland. In last years, many people hoped to participate in the parade because of the change in policy. Thus, in 2015, some gay banners have appeared. Such banners identify the sexual orientation of the group which carrying them and proclaiming predilections of its members. At the same time, a banner “Choose Life” of a pro-life group promoting adoption as an abortion alternative has been banned on St. Patrick’s Day parade.
St. Patrick’s Day is an annual festive day which is celebrated in many countries of the world. It commemorates the saint patron and arrival of Christianity to Ireland. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in New York in 1762. Later, St. Patricks’ Day Parade became a public declaration of beliefs in Ireland’s future as a free nation, its strong identity, and new values and liberties that they have gained in the USA. Banners are an important part of a St. Patricks’ Day Parade that show the allegiance of the person carrying them. Modern vinyl banners have many applications. Some of them are a form of outdoor advertising representing the ideas of different groups of people or organizations. Sometimes, they are used as a rally point for their supporters as well as getting their message across to the public.