St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated in Ireland for more than a thousand years. The modern celebration on March 17 is a religious holiday in Ireland, with church in the morning, then a parade and dancing, eating and drinking later in the day.
American collectors are beginning to look for decorations and memorabilia from St. Patrick’s Day, often to join their more popular Christmas and Halloween collectibles. Get started on a St. Patrick’s Day collection before it gains on the other holidays. Look for green, the holiday’s color. From about 1910 to 1930, holiday candy containers were made in Germany out of cardboard or composition. A green pig, an Irishman’s head topped by a traditional hat, and children dressed in Irish costumes were popular shapes. There are many St. Patrick’s Day postcards from the 1910s and 1920s, too, and Avery Dennison and other companies made green crepe paper and cutouts for holiday tables. In the 1920s, the Japanese also made St Patrick’s Day memorabilia featuring the traditional shamrock, leprechaun and pipe.
More recent holiday pieces include a red-haired Irish Madame Alexander doll, a green Fenton glass set of bears with bowties and shamrocks, and even a limited-edition Longaberger basket. A 2005 Boston Red Sox green jersey, a Guinness T-shirt, a Franklin Mint sword and a Hamm’s beer stein all date from after the 1960s. Most of these items are still inexpensive. And most of them will be found not at auctions, but at ephemera shows, garage sales and flea markets. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.