Some 10,000 marchers in 185 units will wind their way through downtown Cleveland in Ohio’s largest and oldest St. Patrick’s Day parade today, dating back to 1867.
The parade steps off at a few minutes after 1 p.m., following morning religious services toned down this year because the holiday falls on the Monday of Holy Week, the sacred seven days leading up to Easter. A fife and drum corps that normally marches into the pre-parade Mass at St. Colman Church won’t be doing so this time.
In Columbus, the Roman Catholic bishop had asked the city’s Shamrock Club not to hold its annual parade on St. Patrick’s Day, out of deference to Holy Monday. The group refused but did change the march route and dropped a traditional Mass from the day’s schedule.
The holiday, colloquially St. Paddy's Day or Paddy's Day, is an annual feast day which celebrates Saint Patrick (circa 385–461 AD), one of the patron saints of Ireland, and is generally celebrated on March 17.
The day is the national holiday of Ireland. It is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland, and a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Montserrat, and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. In the rest of Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States and New Zealand, it is widely celebrated but is not an official holiday.
It became a feast day in the Roman Catholic Church due to the influence of the Waterford-born Franciscan scholar Luke Wadding in the early part of the 17th century, and is a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholics in Ireland. The date of the feast is occasionally moved by church authorities when March 17 falls during Holy Week; this happened in 1940 when Saint Patrick's Day was observed on 3 April in order to avoid it coinciding with Palm Sunday, and is happening again in 2008, being observed on March 15.
March 17 will not fall during Holy Week again until 2160.
Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated worldwide by Irish people and increasingly by non-Irish people (usually in Australia, North America, Ireland) as well. Celebrations are generally themed around all things Irish and, by association, the colour green. Both Christians and non-Christians celebrate the secular version of the holiday by wearing green or orange, eating Irish food and/or green foods, imbibing Irish drink (such as Guinness) and attending parades.