The Oldest St. Patricks Day Parade In The Entire World Makes Triumphant Return

New York City is home to the oldest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the world, with the event dating back to 1762, and this year it makes its triumphant return as the city hosts its 262nd parade.

By Tori Hook | Published

St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick’s Day is starting with a bang in New York City, as the world’s oldest St. Patrick’s Day Parade marches down Fifth Avenue and kicks off the day’s festivities. Celebrated each year on March 17—the anniversary of the death of St. Patrick in the fifth century—St. Patrick’s Day is a worldwide celebration of Irish culture. This proud tradition continues today in New York with the city’s 262nd St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Though it’s largely a cultural holiday these days, the Irish originally celebrated St. Patrick’s Day as a religious holiday, often attending special church services in the morning before celebrating in the afternoon and evening. Because the holiday usually falls during the Christian season of Lent, during which the consumption of meat was banned, the holiday was celebrated by allowing meat for the day. People still celebrate the day with meats and other Irish delicacies, with street food offerings of shepherd’s pie, cabbage and bacon, and a host of potato dishes on sale near the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City.

Approximately 61 percent of U.S. citizens celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in some form or fashion and while many associate it with the Irish, few know the history of its namesake, St. Patrick. He wasn’t born Irish but was brought to the country as a slave. He escaped his captivity, but later returned to Ireland, and is widely credited with bringing Christianity to the Irish people in the AD 400s. While the holiday has lost much of its religious connotation, it remains a proud tradition for the Irish people—and others who just join in the festivities—evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of St. Patrick’s Day Parade attendees.

According to ABC7, the parade festivities will shut down a number of streets downtown today, and various public transit systems have made changes to adjust for the large number of parade attendees. A charitable event, this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be fundraising for Catholic Charities, City Meals on Wheels, and City Harvest, all organizations that help provide people with better access to food. It’s an appropriate theme, given that one of the things people love most about St. Patrick’s Day is the food!

The enduring celebration of St. Patrick’s Day around the world, but especially in New York, pays homage to the significant contributions the Irish people have made to world communities. Mayor Eric Adams of New York City mentioned the Brooklyn Bridge, the joint police forces, and the subway system as evidence of the Irish community’s contributions to and enduring place in the city. The Irish have been a part of New York City since before 1762, when the very first New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade took place.

If you’re planning to attend the parade, make sure to get there early, as viewing spots will go quickly. And if you’re traveling across the city for work or pleasure today, make sure you check road closures and plan accordingly. Above all else, remember to wear green and count your lucky stars!