The Effect of COVID-19 on Saint Patrick’s Day

When the coronavirus first started shutting down schools and businesses in March of 2020, the way people lived their lives completely transformed. As people began to shut their doors in the public world, the next upcoming holiday, Saint Patrick’s Day had an isolated celebration. Most Irish pubs were closed altogether and every festival to celebrate Irish pride was canceled.

All of Chicago’s usual Saint Patrick’s Day parades have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Chicago has remained in the holiday spirit by continuing on with their annual green dying of the Chicago River. (Photo Taken From abcnews.go.com)

The usual big events that take place on Saint Patrick’s Day such as the NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade and the Rockland county parade will be

canceled for the second year in a row. Chicago will be canceling all of their parades as well; however, they will be maintaining their annual green dying of the Chicago river to keep the Irish spirit alive. 

“Happy St. Patrick’s Day Weekend, Chicago! Although we didn’t gather, we were able to honor long-standing tradition by dyeing the Chicago River green, thanks to the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers. If you’re heading out today, make sure to mask up and watch your distance,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago tweeted.

The first Saint Patrick’s Day celebration dates back to the fifth century. However, records show that the first Saint Patrick’s Day parade took place in 1601 in a Spanish colony in what is now known as St. Augustine, Florida. 

This religious holiday is meant to celebrate the death of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Patrick was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave. He escaped captivity and returned to Ireland as a missionary, spreading Christianity across various regions of the country. 

Today most Irish families celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day by attending church in the morning then celebrating with festivities and meals in the afternoon. However, with many COVID-19 restrictions still present, Irish families haven’t been able to attend their annual way of celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day.

A year later, COVID-19 is still changing the ways the world can celebrate these holidays. Statistics show that 49% of people in the US will be celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day from their homes this year, limiting their time in public. With many people still spending the majority of their time behind closed doors, small businesses have been suffering from the loss of customers which has greatly affected the way Irish pubs do business.

Hennessey’s Tavern is one of the many Irish pubs suffering due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Hennessey’s Tavern has set up a large array of safely spaced tables for their customers to stay healthy while still being able to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day.

Paul Hennessey, the owner of the Irish pub, Hennessey’s Tavern, is one of the many local businesses suffering from the COVID-19 restrictions to celebrate his busiest day of the year. 

Usually, on Saint Patrick’s Day, Hennessey’s Tavern would have a line out the door at nine o’clock in the morning with people waiting to celebrate the holiday. Hennessey’s Tavern would give out souvenir cups, t-shirts, and buttons for everyone to get into the holiday spirit.  

 However, last year Hennessey’s Tavern closed just the day before Saint Patrick’s Day making them unable to have any holiday celebration at all. 

“We’ve built all these outdoor dining venues in parking lots and sidewalks and where we could [because] for the last 6 months we have just been serving people outside. We will have a Saint Patrick’s Day event this year [and] we should be able to do full business,” Hennessey stated.

Hennessey hopes that next year Hennessey’s Tavern will be able to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day free from restrictions. 

“I don’t think there will be any restrictions after August or September if everyone is getting vaccinated I thought we’d be wearing face masks for a year or two but I really think they’ll let that go and let the employees work without it,” Hennesey stated.

Irish freshman Jeremy Magino used to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day by hanging around the pub with his Irish family, attending local Saint Patrick’s Day festivals, and having a hearty Irish meal. 

However, with many of the Saint Patrick’s Day events being canceled again this year, Magino won’t be able to attend any festivals. 

“We can’t go out anywhere and it sucks but it doesn’t necessarily have to change everything such as the meal at the end of the day,” Magino said.

Magino states that soda bread and corned beef are always a part of the yearly Saint Patrick’s Day meal. 

“The Irish Culture just isn’t corned beef and hash, [in fact] you hardly find it on a menu or dinner table every night in Ireland. There are tons of other meals that are common like Shepherd’s Pie,” Magino stated.

Over the years, Irish Americans have been stereotyped. After arriving in America, Irish immigrants found it extremely difficult to find jobs, were relegated to the lower class and ostracized from society. Irish Americans bolstered their sense of pride and heritage by forming tightly knit communities.

The NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade has been canceled for the second year in a row due to the COVID-19 guidelines. Usually, the NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade is the largest in the US with over 150,000 participants yearly.

In 1848, the Irish communities united their Irish parades to form the official New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. When the Irish Americans went to the streets to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, along with their heritage, many newspapers illustrated the Irish as drunk and violent monkeys. 

As the Irish Americans grew in numbers the annual St. Patrick’s Day parades became a sign of strength for Irish Americans. Later in 1948, President Harry S. Truman attended the New York City‘s St. Patrick’s Day parade. This was a proud moment for many Irish Americans who fought these stereotypes in order to find acceptance in America. Today the NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade is the largest in the US with over 150,000 participants.  

“Irish History is a real reason why Saint Patrick’s day is so large…the Irish don’t have an “Independence Day,”Magino said, ”I wish people outside of Ireland and those who are less than say 40% or claim to be Irish see that Saint Patrick’s Day isn’t a holiday just to party on, but rather a day of pride and faith, and within Ireland, a day of hope that the island of Ireland will be united.”