One of the reasons St. Patrick's Day (or All Saints Day) is my favorite is that there are no real expectations of anyone who wants to enjoy the day as an Honorary Irishman (or woman). I realize that the holiday is rooted in, and is still celebrated by many organized religions, however I don't see it (even though I was raised Roman Catholic) that way.
Here is a brief history of the day as it evolved here in the USA (via Wikipedia):
The Charitable Irish Society of Boston organized the first observance of St. Patrick's Day in the Thirteen Colonies. Surprisingly, the celebration was not Catholic in nature, Irish immigration to the colonies having been dominated by Protestants. The society's purpose in gathering was simply to honor its homeland, and although they continued to meet annually to coordinate charitable works for the Irish community in Boston, they did not meet on the 17th of March again until 1794.
New York's first Saint Patrick's Day observance was similar in nature to that of Boston's. It was held on 17 March 1762 in the home of John Marshall, an Irish Protestant, and over the next few years informal gatherings by Irish immigrants were the norm. The first recorded parade in New York was by Irish soldiers in the British Army in 1766. In 1780, General George Washington, who commanded soldiers of Irish descent in the Continental Army, allowed his troops a holiday on 17 March “as an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence." This event became known as The St. Patrick's Day Encampment of 1780.
Irish patriotism in New York City continued to soar and the parade in New York City continued to grow. Irish aid societies were created like Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and the Hibernian Society and they marched in the parades too. Finally when many of these aid societies joined forces in 1848 the parade became not only the largest parade in the United States but one of the largest in the world.
I hope everyone enjoys their own interpretation of my "No Expectations Day". I am preparing an "Americanized" version of Corned Beef and Cabbage for dinner, to be feasted upon by us and a few of our neighbors...
Over and "Out" from our little piece of Ireland, here in Portsmouth, VA