In communities around the country, St. Patrick’s Day is a time of festivities and parades. But the celebration of Irish culture doesn’t begin and end with this Catholic holiday. For over 25 years, Americans have celebrated Irish culture all month long.
In 1991, Congress officially proclaimed March to be Irish-American Heritage Month. Since then, Americans have used the month of March to celebrate Irish culture and the great impact Irish Americans have had in the United States.
Irish Ancestry and Immigrants
From 1820 to 1930, 4.5 million people emigrated from Ireland to the U.S., most traveling before and during Ireland’s 1845 Potato Blight. Unfortunately, the living conditions for Irish immigrants in the U.S. were troubled and the immigrants experienced years of discrimination. Despite the challenges, their descendants achieved great success in a variety of industries, from politics to entertainment.
Over ten of our U.S. presidents are said to have Irish ancestry, including President Barak Obama. The famed entertainer Gene Kelly used his Irish ancestry as inspiration for the musical number, “The Hat My Dear Old Father Wore,” in the film, Take Me Out to the Ball Game. And the literary legend F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of the most famous American writers of Irish heritage.
Irish Americans Today
Today, there are millions of Irish descendants who will be celebrating their ancestry and history. According to the United States Census, 10.4 percent of the population has Irish ancestry, that’s about 33.1 million. Large populations of Irish Americans live in the northeast, so it is no surprise that two of the world’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parades are held in Boston and New York City. This month let’s all take steps to honor our country’s Irish heritage. Listed below are two suggestions to help you get started.
- Make the most of the festivities. St. Patrick’s Day can be a great day of fun, but be sure to make the most of it. If possible, attend Irish dances, participate in the activities, and visit any Irish exhibits on display. The more you see, they more you’ll learn.
- Try something new. New food or music is a great way to learn more about another culture. This month try making a traditional Irish dish, such as corned beef and cabbage or boxty. Or listen to traditional Irish music. Immersing yourself in a different culture is a great way for you to grow spiritually.