Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) on Friday introduced the St. Patrick’s Day Act, a bill that if passed would designate St. Patrick’s Day as a federal holiday.
“St. Patrick’s Day commemorates the rich history and fighting spirit of the Irish people—including nearly two million in Pennsylvania—and the countless contributions that generations of Irish Americans have made to our nation,” Fitzpatrick said on his congressional website.
“As a descendant of Irish immigrants and a friend of Ireland, I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to properly recognize St. Patrick’s Day as a federal holiday.”
The motion was not without at least one critic. Ashley Ehasz, a Democrat who ran against Fitzpatrick in 2022, tweeted following the announcement: “How about making Election Day a federal holiday while you’re at it, so that no one has to choose between a paycheck and their constitutional rights.” The onetime candidate accused Fitzpatrick of having “used [his] vote to crush those of others.”
Fitzpatrick wrote on Twitter on Friday afternoon that earlier he had had lunch with President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy at the annual Friends of Ireland luncheon. The event was hosted by McCarthy at the U.S. Capitol.
St. Patrick’s Day, which began as a religious holiday in the 17th century, honors the patron saint of Ireland.
Born in Roman Britain in the late 4th century, Patrick was kidnapped at age 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave. He later escaped but returned around 432 A.D. and converted the Irish to Christianity. Many legends have grown around him, including that he drove snakes out of Ireland.
The addition of a holiday to the federal schedule is a relatively rare event. The most recent addition was Juneteenth, added to the national roster in 2021 to commemorate the official cessation of slavery in the United States.
Nearly 32 million Americans—or roughly 10 percent of the population—claim Irish descent, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.