While much of the holiday’s festivities are well-known, there are some hidden secrets about St. Patrick’s Day in NYC that make this day even more interesting. Every year, the city comes alive with parades, concerts, and festivities, as residents and visitors alike come together to celebrate Irish heritage and culture. Many people already know about St. Patrick’s Day celebration in New York City but most do not know the local secrets. Keep reading for the top 10 secrets about St. Patrick’s Day in NYC.
First, what is St. Patrick’s Day about?
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17 every year across the world. Also known as the Feast of Saint Patrick, it is a cultural and religious celebration of the patron saint of Ireland who is said to have died on March 17th in the year 461 A.D. St. Patrick was a Christian missionary and bishop who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland and converting many of the country’s inhabitants to the faith. He is also known for using the shamrock as a symbol to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity to the Irish people. The holiday is celebrated not only in Ireland but all over the world, with New York City being one of the most vibrant places to experience the festivities.
The holiday originated as a feast day in the Catholic Church to commemorate the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and the patron saint who helped spread the faith. Today, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with parades, green clothing, and festive gatherings that often include traditional Irish music, dancing, and food. In many places, it has become a secular celebration of Irish culture and heritage.
When did St. Patrick’s Day celebrations begin in New York City?
St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated in New York City since colonial times, but the first official St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the city took place on March 17th, 1762. The parade was organized by a group of Irish soldiers who were serving in the British army stationed in the city. The parade has since become a beloved annual tradition in New York City, and is one of the largest and most famous St. Patrick’s Day parades in the world. It features a procession of marching bands, bagpipers, Irish step dancers, and various other groups and organizations, and draws millions of spectators each year.
What are the Top 10 Secrets about St. Patrick’s Day in NYC?
- Secret Spot: Visit the most traditional Irish Pubs in New York City to get the real St. Patrick’s Day vibe.
New York City has a wealth of Irish pubs that are especially lively on St. Patrick’s Day. The most long-standing pubs include McSorley’s Old Ale House, Molly’s Shebeen, PJ Clarke’s, The Landmark Tavern, The Ear Inn and Peter McManus Cafe. McSorley’s Old Ale House is the most famous and has been operating since 1854 at 15 East 7th Street in New York City. Famous poet e.e. cummings wrote a poem about the ale house in 1925 called “Sitting in McSorley’s.” From Presidents to regular patrons, people have been abiding by their golden rule of “Be Good or Be Gone” for over 150 years. The Dead Rabbit blends Irish heritage and American tradition in a new and genuine way in their three-story pub located at 30 Water St. in NYC. Molly’s Shebeen stands at 287 Third Avenue and has a history of serving people’s festivities and beverages since 1895. Known for serving traditional Irish fare, you may want to head over if you have a taste for a classic Shepherd’s Pie.
- Secret Spot: Take a tour of the Catacombs of St. Patrick’s Basilica in Nolita-
A special walking tour of the Catacombs of The Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in Nolita will take you to places otherwise off-limits to visitors. Travel back to 1815 to the center of an Irish immigrant community in New York City while you take a candlelit tour through the final resting place of many notable New Yorkers at 260-264 Mulberry St. Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral was the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York until the current Saint Patrick’s Cathedral opened in 1879. It was officially named a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Commission in 1966.
- Secret Spot: Visit the Irish Hunger Memorial-
You can visit the Irish Hunger Memorial at the corner of Vesey Street and North End Avenue in Battery Park City. The memorial honors over one million Irish people starved to death and millions of others were forced to immigrate (many to New York) during the Great Irish Famine between 1845-1852. The memorial uses soil and native vegetation from the western coast of Ireland with stones from all of the 32 Irish counties. The installation features a stone cottage from the 1820s which was donated by the Slack family of the Carradoogan in the parish of Attymass, County Mayo.
- Secret Spot: Visit the Five Points –
If you visit Collect Pond Park, you’ll be right in the heart of the Five Points neighborhood, which is now bound by Canal, Duane, Lafayette Streets and the Bowery. It was primarily an Irish neighborhood that originated in the mid-19th century as people fled the Great Irish Potato Famine. Back in the 1800s, the area was known as a slum plagued by filth, vice, violence, and gangs. The Five Points neighborhood and its gangs were the inspiration behind Martin Scorcese’s film, Gangs of New York.
- Secret Fun Fact: The New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the largest in the world.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City is the largest and oldest in the world, attracting around 2 million spectators each year. It began in 1762 and has been held annually since then, also making it the oldest parade of its kind in the United States. The parade features a variety of marching bands, and bagpipers. The St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City is one of the few parades in the city that does not allow floats, balloons, or commercial advertising. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City was actually held by British soldiers, not Irish immigrants. It wasn’t until later that the parade was taken over by the Irish-American community.
- Secret Fun Fact: The identity of the grand marshal of the parade is often kept a secret until just a few weeks before the parade –
The grand marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City is typically a prominent figure in Irish-American culture or politics. However, the identity of the grand marshal is often kept a secret until just a few weeks before the parade. The role of the Grand Marshal is to lead the parade and represent the Irish-American community. They ride at the front of the parade, often in a convertible car or on horseback, and wave to the crowds along the parade route. The Grand Marshal may also make speeches at various events leading up to the parade, and may participate in other activities throughout the day.
- Secret Fun Fact: The green color associated with St. Patrick’s Day was not always the official color of the holiday –
Blue was originally the color associated with St. Patrick, but green became popular during the Irish independence movement in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In the early years of the parade, participants would wear homespun green jackets, which eventually gave way to the current tradition of wearing kilts and bagpipes. The tradition of using green as a symbol of St. Patrick’s Day dates back to the 17th century, when green became associated with the holiday as a way to represent Ireland and its landscape. Today, green is still widely recognized as a symbol of St. Patrick’s Day and is used in decorations, clothing, and other festive items associated with the holiday.
- Secret Spots: Visit Old Tammany Hall –
Old Tammany Hall sits at 44 Union Square in New York City. It was the headquarters of the Democratic Party’s political machine in New York City from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century. Tammany Hall was named after Tamanend, a legendary Native American leader, and was founded in 1786 as a fraternal organization. Over time, it evolved into a powerful political machine, which controlled New York City politics through a system of patronage, corruption, and voter fraud. Old Tammany Hall was the site of many important political meetings and events, including the nomination of presidential candidates and the selection of candidates for local offices. To build loyalty and support among its members, lavish banquets and social events were held here. Today, the term “Tammany Hall” is often used as a shorthand for the corrupt and powerful political machines that dominated American politics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The original Tammany Hall building was demolished in the early 20th century, and the site is now occupied by a high-rise office building.
- Secret Spots: Visit the Tenement Museum –
The Tenement Museum in New York City focuses on the history of immigration and urban life in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The museum is a restored tenement building that was once home to over 7,000 working-class immigrants. Take a guided tour that explores the daily lives of Irish immigrants who lived in the tenement building from the 1860s to the 1930s, called “At Home in 1869.” Visitors can see the apartments, shops, and other spaces where immigrants worked, lived, and raised their families. The Lower East Side, where the museum is located, was a major destination for Irish immigrants in the mid-19th century. Many Irish immigrants settled in the area and worked in the factories, sweatshops, and other industries that dominated the neighborhood. The museum’s exhibits and programs explore the experiences of Irish immigrants, including their struggles with poverty, discrimination, and cultural assimilation. In addition to its focus on Irish culture, the Tenement Museum also explores the experiences of immigrants from other countries, including Italy, Germany, and Eastern Europe. The museum is dedicated to preserving and sharing the stories of immigrants who helped to build New York City and the United States.
- Secret Fun Fact: The Empire State Building is lit up in green each year on St. Patrick’s Day, adding to the festive atmosphere of the city.
The Empire State Building turns green for St. Patrick’s Day as a way to celebrate the holiday and to honor the Irish-American community. The tradition of lighting the building green for St. Patrick’s Day began in 2008 and has become an annual tradition. Green is widely recognized as a symbol of St. Patrick’s Day and is used in decorations, clothing, and other festive items associated with the holiday. The green lighting of the Empire State Building on St. Patrick’s Day is part of a larger celebration of Irish culture and heritage in New York City, which is home to a large Irish-American population. The holiday is a time when many people of Irish descent come together to celebrate their heritage through parades, festivals, and other events.
St. Patrick’s Day has a long and rich history in New York City, dating back to the early days of the city’s history. Over time, the parade has evolved into a major celebration of Irish American heritage, with millions of people taking to the streets to celebrate each year. As the city continues to grow and change, the St. Patrick’s Day parade remains a cherished tradition and a testament to the enduring spirit of the Irish American community in New York City. We hope you enjoy reading about the secrets of St. Patrick’s Day in NYC and that you will get to explore some of these options.
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