St. Patrick’s Day: For the Irish in Us All!

By Vicki A. Brady


Whether it is wearing green or watching a parade, on St. Patrick’s Day, millions of people around the world, including 122 million Americans, will connect with their Irish roots.  Today, over 34 million U.S. residents claim Irish ancestry, more than seven times the population of Ireland!  Originally begun in Ireland over 1,000 years ago as a Christian holy day in honor of one of the world’s most beloved saints, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into a worldwide event that brings communities, religions, and continents together.


St. Patrick the Missionary

Patrick was born into a wealthy, Christian family in Britain around 390 A.D.  Growing up in a country villa with plenty of servants to meet his every need, he lived a life of privilege but allegedly did not embrace his family’s Christian beliefs.  One day, when he was about 16, Irish marauders kidnapped Patrick and brought him to the nearby island of Ireland as a slave to tend sheep.  The extreme loneliness and harsh conditions turned Patrick’s heart back to his Christian roots. For the next six, long years Patrick grew in his faith, studied the Irish culture, and learned to speak Celtic.  One night in a dream, he heard a voice that he believed to be from God telling him to escape back to Britain and giving him the directions he needed to accomplish it.  Once safely home, Patrick could not forget the people of Ireland and the cruel conditions they endured under the pagan religion known as Druidism, which reportedly included human sacrifice.  Soon Patrick had another dream in which the people of Ireland begged him to return to their island and help them.  Patrick pursued studies for the priesthood, wash ordained as a priest and then a bishop, after which he returned to Ireland to share Christianity.  For the next 40 years, Patrick lived in Ireland and is credited with the conversion of the nation from paganism to Christianity.


In the 1800’s, Ireland was struck by a devastating potato famine which led to the death of over one million people and mass emigration of over a million more.  As Irish families flocked to America, they brought with them the rich heritage and traditions of The Emerald Isle.


Green Beer and Shamrocks

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th every year, and with the holiday comes a myriad of customs that people enjoy, whether or not they are Irish.

Wearing of the Green – It is customary to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day with the penalty being a strong pinch for those who forget.

Shamrocks – Legend has it that this little three-leafed plant was used by Patrick to explain the Christian concept of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Shillelagh (shi-lay-lee) – Disguised as a walking stick, the shillelagh was a powerful wooden weapon when, under British rule, the Irish were forbidden to use metal ones.

Chicago’s Green River – Since 1962, Irish enthusiasts annually dye the Chicago River green, using 40 pounds of green vegetable dye.

Corned Beef and Cabbage – This traditional Irish dish is served in America and is practically unheard of in Ireland.  Originating in Ireland, the cabbage was cooked with bacon until it became too expensive and the cheaper corned beef was substituted.

Leprechauns – According to Irish fairy tales, these cranky imps made shoes for other woodland fairies and hid their gold payments at the end of a rainbow.  Leprechauns were not part of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations until Walt Disney released the film Darby O’Gill & the Little People in 1959.


When Irish Eyes Are Smiling!

Chances are, if Irish eyes are smiling on St. Patrick’s Day, it could have something to do with the consumption of 13 million pints of Guinness that is consumed that day.   Guinness, a dark, stout Irish beer, was recently cited as possibly being as effective as daily aspirin in preventing heart attacks.  According to the American Heart Association, antioxidants in the dark ale help reduce cholesterol deposits on arterial walls, giving Irish revelers one more reason to smile.


Everyone Loves a Parade

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in 1762 when a band of homesick Irish ex-patriots serving in the British military marched through the streets of New York City.   Considered the largest parade in the world, the St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York will host over 150 bands and as many as 250,000 marchers walking over two miles.  An estimated two million spectators will watch the parade in person for five, six hours, with millions more watching at home on television and the internet.


Since St. Patrick is considered the patron saint of engineers, Missouri S&T students in Rolla join in the celebration in a big way, beginning with painting the surface of Pine Street green.   On Wednesday, March 14th, the Royal Court will have made their triumphant entrance, escorted by Missouri S&T staff and students, the Rolla Chamber, the Rolla Downtown Business Association, all carrying assorted noise makers such as pots and pans, cymbals, cow bells, and horns.


St. Pat’s Day, March 17, 2018 List of Events – Open to the Public


St. Pat’s 5K

Folks are invited to get their green on and walk, run, skip, or crawl the 5K.  There will be prizes for the best “wearin’ o the green” along with a few other surprise awards.  For competitive runners, the race will be chip timed and awards given.

  • Registration at 7:00 a.m. at Public House Brewing Co.
  • 5K Race starts at 8:00 a.m. at the corner of 7th & Rolla St.
  • 5K Cost: $25, which includes registration, timing bib, and 5K Race T-shirt (subject to availability)


St. Pat’s Beer Run

Adults are invited to the 2nd Annual Beer Run where each competitor drinks ¼ of a beer and then runs a lap, ultimately resulting in the consumption of a full beer and four laps, just shy of a mile.

  • Registration at 7:00 a.m. at Public House Brewing Co.
  • Beer Run starts at 9:30 a.m. on Rolla St.
  • Beer Run Cost:  $25, which includes registration, Beer Run T-shirt (as available) and beer mug (must be 21 or older to participate, ID Required at registration)


Pre-Parade Breakfast

The Miner Alumni Association invites you to be their guest for breakfast the morning of the parade. This event is free and open to the community. No reservations required, however breakfast is available first-come, first-served.

  • Time: 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
  • Location: Hasselmann Alumni House, 1100 North Pine St.


Post-Parade Pig Roast

The Miner Alumni association is hosting a post-parade pig roast featuring whole roasted, smoked pork, carved on-site, with all the fixings.  Registration for this event is now closed but it is a good thing to keep in mind for next year.


110th Annual St. Pat’s Parade & Concert

“St. Pat’s at High Noon” is this year’s theme for the St. Pat’s parade which begins at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 17th.  Over 100 community businesses and around 15 student organization will be represented.  Following the parade, a free concert, headlined by Tech N9ne, will begin in the Rolla downtown band shell near the railroad tracks at the corner of 9th and Oak Streets, with food and drinks available for a modest cost.


This weekend, no matter what your heritage is, everyone is invited to get their Irish on and have a safe, family-friendly St. Patrick’s Day celebration.



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