March is one of the better months for a variety of reasons; the weather is starting to get warmer (hopefully… hang in there people), you can feel the seasonal depression start to lift, and the sun is still shining when you leave the office at the end of the day. March is also the month that hosts one of my all time favorite holidays – St. Patrick’s Day.
Like most people, I reached deep into my ancestral history to find even a shred of Irish roots, and I did. I am a whopping one eighth Irish and proud of it! To celebrate this little piece of history, I began traveling to the streets of Downtown Savannah every year on March 17th dressed in full blown green ready to watch the parade with a couple hundred thousand of my closest friends. But what makes St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah so great?
St. Patrick the man himself was not actually born Irish, but became an important part of Irish history when he traveled across Ireland in the 5th century for over 20 years spreading the word of his religion and baptizing and confirming all the while. He also set up schools and churches across Ireland to aid him in his conversion goals as well as developed a native clergy and set up church councils. Throughout his travels, legends started to spread about him that ranged from using a three-leaf shamrock as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity, to “putting the curse of God on venomous snakes and driving them all out of Ireland into the sea.” The man, the myth, the legend died on March 17th, AD 461, and that day has since forth been commemorated as St. Patrick’s Day, and the day that celebrates the baptizm of Ireland.
Bringing the Celebration to Savannah
Although Savannah, Georgia is a quite a long way from Ireland, the celebration is alive and well, and has been since 1813 when members of the Hibernian Society marched alongside the Independent Presbyterian Church. The first public observance in Savannah was held in 1824 when the same society invited the rest of the city to join them in the festivities. Since that day, the event has snowballed with now approximately 280 groups of bands, families, soldiers, societies, floats, and public servants making their way down the streets in one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades around.
In fact, the celebration has now grown so large it no longer encompasses a single day, but the entire month of March. While the outfits and souvenir hats have gotten a little grander throughout the years, the meaning stays the same as Irish Heritage is celebrated loud and proud.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! If you’re in Savannah, look for me. I’ll be the one in green.