Saint Patrick’s Day, although only a legal holiday in Suffolk County, Massachusetts (where it is recognized alongside Evacuation Day) and Chatham County, Georgia, is nonetheless widely recognized and celebrated throughout the United States. It is primarily celebrated as a recognition of Irish and Irish American culture; celebrations include prominent displays of the color green, eating and drinking, religious observances, and numerous parades. The holiday has been celebrated on the North American continent since the late 18th century.
According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. The Declaration says that he spent many years evangelising in the northern half of Ireland and converted “thousands”. Tradition holds that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick. Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland’s foremost saint. According to legend, Saint Patrick used the three-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans. The wearing of the ‘St Patrick’s Day Cross’ was also a popular custom in Ireland until the early 20th century. These were a Celtic Christian cross made of paper that was “covered with silk or ribbon of different colours, and a bunch or rosette of green silk in the centre”
Many people choose to wear green colored clothing and items. Traditionally, those who are caught not wearing green are pinched “affectionately”.