Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patricks Day!

St. Patrick

Today is St. Patrick's Day, not only a state holiday in Ireland but also a popular holiday in the U.S. and Great Britain due to the diaspora of the Irish from Ireland in the 19th century. St. Patrick's Day is also the anniversary of the British Army and Navy beginning the evacuation of occupied Boston in 1776 during the American Revolution. This is celebrated as Evacuation Day in Massachusetts and is considered a state holiday in Suffolk County and for many state employees.

The importance of St. Patrick's Day and the juxtaposition of Evacuation Day in the city of Boston and its environs today is somewhat ironic in that during the time of the Revolution, Catholicism was very unpopular. There were many reasons for this, to include King Henry VIII's bitter break with the Roman Catholic Church, the constant threat of attack from the French-Catholic settlements in Canada (a threat which ended at the conclusion of the French and Indian War) and most importantly the founding of Boston by the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

For many years Bostonians celebrated Popes Day on November 5 (Guy Fawkes Day in England). The day was marked by bonfires and the dragging around of a stuffed dummy that represented the Catholic Pope. Anti-Catholic feeling was to continue for many years in Boston and even led to street riots and attacks upon our French allies during America's War for Independence on the occasion of military set-backs during the war.

The old ways changed along with the demographics of Boston and many of America's city's when the Irish began to emigrate to the New World in large numbers. This was to have a great affect on America and especially its politics. The effects were most pronounced in the nations big city's and eventually led to the election of two Presidents of Irish-American descent. The influx of Irish immigrants also was to greatly aid the Union Army during America's Civil War.

No comments: