St. Patrick's Day: The history behind the holiday in the United States

However you view St. Patrick's Day — as a holy day of obligation, a celebration of Irish culture, or an excuse to imbibe a green pint of beer — millions across the globe will observe the holiday on March 17th. But other than "drowning the shamrock" and getting pinched for not wearing green, what do we really know about the holiday?

For the answers, Fox News consulted Monsignor Robert T. Ritchie, the rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, to explain a few of the finer points about this widely celebrated holiday.

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"The official feast day in the Catholic Church of St. Patrick of Ireland is March 17," Ritchie says. "That's why it's always celebrated here in New York on the 17th itself; in Ireland, it's a holy day of obligation, and the people have to go to church."

As Ritchie explained, the practice of celebrating St. Patrick's Day here in America pre-dates the country itself. "It's amazing, it started before there was a United States," he said. "George Washington's troops, who were Irish at the time, marched up Broadway on the 17th of March, and they celebrated the first St. Patrick's Day in New York."

Monsignor Robert T. Ritchie, the rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, says St. Patrick's Day celebrations in American "started before there was a United States."

Monsignor Robert T. Ritchie, the rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, says St. Patrick's Day celebrations in American "started before there was a United States."

But while Washington's troops hold the distinction of the first St. Paddy's "parade" in New York, the very first St. Patrick's Day Parade took place in Boston, explains John Quinn, the global brand ambassador of Tullamore D.E.W. and vice chair of the Irish Whiskey Association.

Quinn began by reiterating that the celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17th is an not arbitrary, Hallmark-appointed holiday.

“St. Patrick died on the 17th of March in around 460 AD,” explained Quinn. “The recognition of this date as an official Christian Feast Day in Ireland happened in the 17th century, and since then, the day has grown in importance and is often regarded as the most celebrated of national days across the world.”

John Quinn, the global brand ambassador of <a data-cke-saved-href="https://www.tullamoredew.com/en-gb/" href="https://www.tullamoredew.com/en-gb/">Tullamore D.E.W.</a> and vice chair of the Irish Whiskey Association, added that pubs weren't always open in Ireland on March 17.

John Quinn, the global brand ambassador of <a data-cke-saved-href="https://www.tullamoredew.com/en-gb/" href="https://www.tullamoredew.com/en-gb/">Tullamore D.E.W.</a> and vice chair of the Irish Whiskey Association, added that pubs weren't always open in Ireland on March 17. (Tullamore D.E.W.)

When it comes to the iconic parades, however, Quinn said Boston beat everyone to it. “Boston hosted the world’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1737. New York followed, and then we took on this great idea in Ireland,” said Quinn.

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Parades are not the only event to signal St. Patrick’s Day across the globe. Well-known "greening" traditions in the U.S. include dyeing the Chicago River; lighting New York City’s Empire State Building green, white, and orange; and dyeing the fountain on the North Lawn of the White House green. “Most people wouldn’t know, though, that the Sydney Opera House, The Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, The Great Wall of China and the Pyramids in Egypt all turn green on St. Patrick’s Day too,” said Quinn.

March 2019 : Chicago river walk on Saint Patrick's Day.

March 2019 : Chicago river walk on Saint Patrick's Day.

The vice chair of the Irish Whiskey Association also noted that drinking and St. Patrick’s Day did not always go hand-in-hand. Pubs were closed on March 17 in Ireland as a sign of respect for the religious observance, which happens to fall in the middle of Lent. In fact, it wasn’t until 1970 that patrons could go to a pub on St. Patrick’s Day.

“The only place you could buy a beer before 1970 was at Dublin’s Dog show which, for some reason, was regarded being outside the laws,” said Quinn. “As you can imagine, Dublin got a huge number of new dog lovers that day.”

With no current restrictions in place on March 17, Quinn added that he prefers the drink — of course —  a Tullamore D.E.W. or. more specifically, a "D.E.W. and a brew," just like his father used to do.

“Of course back then I thought he was a bit mad – and now I realize he had it sorted," said Quinn.

For more on the Origins of St. Patrick’s Day, watch the full video above. For recipes on some cocktails to make for St. Patrick’s Day, see below.

Shamrock Out Knockout

(Created by Sonny Verdini, Bar Manager, TRADE (Boston, Mass.) )

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounces Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey
  • 1 dash cinnamon syrup
  • .75 ounces house-made ginger liquor 
  • .5 ounces lemon
  • 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Dehydrated lemon wheel (for garnish)

Directions: Combine ingredients, aside from garnish, in a shaker. Shake, and pour into a single rocks glass. Garnish with a dehydrated cinnamon-sugar lemon wheel.

Tullamore D.E.W.’s Irish Coffee

Created Tullamore D.E.W Brand Ambassador, Donna Stewart.

Ingredients:

  • Freshly brewed hot coffee
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 parts Tullamore D.E.W. Original
  • Heavy Cream, Slightly Whipped

Directions: Preheat a clear-stemmed glass with very hot water. Add the sugar and brewed coffee and stir well. Once the sugar has melted, stir in in the whiskey. Gently whip the heavy cream by shaking it in a protein shaker with a blender ball — you want a somewhat loose, non-stiff consistency. Pour the cream over the back of a hot teaspoon, over the top of the drink (to prevent cream from penetrating the liquid's surface). Finally, garnish with grated nutmeg or cinnamon for a spicy finish.

Proper Paddy's Punch

(Created by Sonny Verdini, Bar Manager, TRADE (Boston, Mass.) )

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of Proper No. Twelve Whiskey
  • 1 Twelve-ounce can of lemonade
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 250 milliliters red wine (about a third of a standard bottle)
  • 3 lemons, sliced into wheels, for garnish

Directions: In a Large Punch Bowl, Add Proper Twelve Whiskey, Lemonade, and Fresh Lemon Juice. Refrigerate overnight. Add ice and stir. Top with Red Wine & Lemon Slices for Garnish

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Irish Mule

Created by Tullamore D.E.W Brand Ambassador, Gillian Murphy

Ingredients:

  • 2 parts Tullamore D.E.W. Original
  • 0.5 parts fresh lemon juice
  • Ginger Beer
  • Lime wheel

Directions: Stir Tullamore D.E.W. Original and lemon juice in a mug filled with ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a lime wheel.

Proper Irish Toddy

(Created by Allison Doughty of American Whiskey Tribeca (New York, N.Y.))

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey
  • .75 ounces lemon juice 
  • .5 ounces honey syrup
  • .25 ounces ginger syrup
  • 5 ounces hot water
  • Lemon wheel with clove
  • Shaved cinnamon

Combine whiskey, lemon juice, honey, ginger syrup and hot water in a mug. Stir until all ingredients are incorporated. Garnish with a lemon wheel and top with shaved cinnamon.

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Emily DeCiccio is a video producer and reporter at Fox News Digital Originals. Tweet her @EmilyDeCiccio.