By James A. Surrell, M.D.

Every year we celebrate the Irish holiday of St. Patrick’s Day. I am proud to have some Irish ancestry; my mother was 100% Irish.

Here’s a brief history of the holiday.

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17, the anniversary of the death of St. Patrick on March 17, 461. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for more than 1,000 years.

Saint Patrick is known to be the Catholic Patron Saint of Ireland. Born in Britain, he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at age 16. He eventually escaped and later returned to Ireland. He is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland.

As you know, the color green is associated with Ireland, which is often referred to as “The Emerald Isle”. This is at least partially based on Ireland’s lush green countryside and expansive green pastureland. Ireland strongly associates with the color green to celebrate Ireland’s beautiful green landscape. Green certainly has become a strong and lasting symbol of Ireland.

The very first St. Patrick’s Day parade reportedly took place in America. Records show that a St. Patrick’s Day parade was held on March 17, 1601, in a Spanish colony located in what is now the city of St. Augustine, Florida.

More than two centuries later, in 1848, several New York Irish societies decided to unite their parades to form one official New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Many other USA cities, including Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and others also celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with large parades. These large parades nearly always have between 10,000 and 20,000 participants.

Today, people of all backgrounds celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, not only in Ireland, but also throughout the world in many other countries. These countries include the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, and many others. Further, very popular St. Patrick’s Day recipes include Irish bread and potatoes, corned beef and cabbage, and other very tasty Irish food dishes. As we also see every year, many people will be wearing green as they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Of course, I can’t let you off without giving you a few silly clean Irish jokes. Please feel free to share them and I wish you all a very Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

What is Irish and lives in your back yard all summer long? Patty O’Furniture.

When is an Irish Potato not Irish? When it’s a French Fry!

I asked an Irish leprechaun to loan me some money. He said he couldn’t because he was a little short.

How can you tell if an Irishman is having a good time? He’s “Dublin” over with laughter!