St. Patty’s Day in Madison


Charlotte Buck and Sophia Patton

St. Patrick’s day is a time of celebrating Irish heritage, and for most people, wishing that they were from the Emerald Isle. On March 17th, the anniversary of the death of Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patricks day is celebrated in Ireland and many other countries. St. Patrick is credited with bringing Christianity to the people of Ireland, and his heroic tale is still told to this day. The celebration has been observed by the Irish for thousands of years, and originally began with a large feast to honor the patron saint of Ireland. Irish families would attend church in the morning and would celebrate in the afternoon. This celebration has changed, expanded, and grown into a huge festivity that is observed in many places around the world. In fact, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade was not held in Ireland, but actually took place in New York City in 1762. Since then, St. Patrick’s Day parades and celebrations have grown immensely into the celebrations seen today.

Madison has found its own way to embrace its Irish heritage through a number of different events. The Madison Shamrock Shuffle kicked off Saturday’s festivities at 10:00 AM. The race started on State Street and was split into a 5k run or walk along with a 10k run. With over 3,000 registrants the proceeds benefited the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County and the Children’s Dyslexia Center. The 21st St. Patrick’s Day Parade was also held on State Street. At noon the Dane County Shamrock Club raised the Irish flag in the Capitol Rotunda, followed by the parade. The occasion brings out about 5,000 spectators annually, depending on the weather. Just over 70 individual groups participate in around ten paid acts. The event benefited three local charities: University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center, Gigi’s Playhouse, and Logan’s Heart and Smiles.

Historically, St. Patty’s Day has not been as celebrated in Ireland as it is in the United States today. Until the 1970s, Irish Pubs were closed for the day in order to observe the holiday with their family. March 17th is widely known as a day to wear green and get a pint of Guinness, but for the Irish, it means something different. Before the 5th Century, the Catholics of Ireland were often scrutinized and discriminated against. With the help of St. Patrick, Christianity became more widely known and accepted. Because of this, March 17th became known as a holy day of obligation for the nation’s Catholics. However, in the 1990s, the government created a yearly celebration including parades and different festivities. In part to boost the economy as well as tourism, this celebration has attracted many and is one of the most sought-after experiences of any foreigner. Regardless of your background or heritage, St. Patty’s day is a time to put on your best green outfit and have some fun!