Saint Patrick's Day, March 17, is a Christian religious holiday that celebrates the patron saint of Ireland. According to the legend, St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland. St. Patrick's Day has also become, especially in the United States, a day to celebrate Irish culture. In major cities across the country like in New York and Boston, there are parades and festivals. People wear green and decorate with shamrocks, a type of three-leaf clover. Some people wear buttons or tee shirts that say "Kiss me, I'm Irish". In the U.S. St. Patrick's Day is not a legal holiday, meaning government offices and schools are open.
The biggest and oldest parade takes place in New York City. It actually began about 250 years ago before the U.S. was even its own country. Every year thousands gather along the famous Fifth Avenue to watch hundreds of Irish step dancers and bagpipe players march. Irish step dancing is done in groups or solo. Dancers perform complicated moves with their feet and legs while keeping their upper bodies stiff. The parade has also been a source of controversy because the parade is associated with the Catholic Church in New York City; gay and lesbian organizations have not been allowed to march. Many people protest the parade or boycott it.
St. Patrick's Day has also become associated with the drinking of a lot of alcohol, specifically beer. One drink that is often seen around the holiday is "Green Beer". This is really just regular beer with green food coloring. Many people feel like the holiday celebrates stereotypes about the Irish, like the myth that they all like to drink and get drunk. Others complain that the holiday has become too focused on drinking, with public drunkenness as a problem in major cities around the holiday.
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