Happy Evacuation Day

Happy Evacuation Day

Incidentally, while I’m thinking about it, I wanted to wish all of you a happy holiday. This is a very important holiday in heavily Irish Catholic Boston and it is observed with religious intensity.

That’s right. It’s .... Evacuation Day. Say what? Yes, March 17 is not just the feast of St. Patrick. By happy coincidence, on this date in 1776, the British siege of Boston was lifted, and thus in Suffolk County, which includes the City of Boston, it is a municipal holiday on which government employees get the day off.  After all, you can’t very well have St. Patrick’s Day be a government holiday with having the ACLU climbing down your throat, no matter how tenuous the religious connection.

And so in any year that March 17 falls on a weekday, you’ll find municipal employees of Boston in the parades and pubs with everyone else who called in sick or took a vacation day or blew off school.

What a weird state I live in.

  • Actually, Evacuation Day is not quite an ersatz holiday. A number of American cities – most notably New York, which along with Newport was among the last US cities to bid good riddance to the Brits, celebrated Evacuation Day with vigor for generations after the War of Independence. It was the biggest holiday of the year in New York for a long time.

    The investment of Dorchester Heights with artillery, which provoked the evacuation (the first evacuation of a major American city by the British, hence its symbolic importance) was a military engineering marvel of its day.

    It’s well worth celebrating.

    Interestingly, the Battle of Bunker Hill occurred on the feast day of Boston’s eponymous saint – St Botolph. (Yes, Boston is one of those rare American cities that is named for a saint – all the more ironic given how resolutely anti-Catholic is was in its founding!) So Bunker Hill Day can also be celebrated as St Botolph’s day.

    In Cambridge, the patron saint of our eponymous city in England – St Ethelreda – is only remembered in the litany of saints at the beginning of Lent.