Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Cigarette silk, 1890-1920. Cloth. Gift of Bella C. Landauer, 2002.1.3243

Who’s ready for the St. Patrick’s Day parade?  New York City has longstanding Irish heritage, with the first known reference to any celebration of St. Patrick’s Day found in a 1756 issue of the New-York Post-Boy. The first reference to a parade was in a March 1766 New York Gazette. Then, homesick Irishmen serving in the British army organized the proceedings. Now, nearly two million people gather along Fifth Avenue to watch  150,000- 250,000 marchers. To find out more, watch our video about the first parade here!

One fun piece of Irish-heritage ephemera is this cigarette silk, a collectible given out by cigarette companies, in this case New York’s Nebo Cigarettes, either in cigarette packs or by a redeemable mail order. This one features a green flag with a gold harp, a design which was carried in the Irish rebellions of 1798 and 1803 and achieved popular acceptance as the national flag. It also includes the lyrics to “The Wearing of the Green,” a ballad about the persecution faced by supporters of the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

This year, since St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday, the parade will take place on Saturday March 16th. Will you be there? What are you favorite parts of the parade? Let us know in the comments!



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