On March 17, 1776, the British military evacuated the city of Boston, Massachusetts and never returned. The city of Boston annually celebrates this day as an official holiday called Boston Evacuation Day.
This article will describe the significance of this day and why its continually celebrated by Bostonians every year.
An 11-month siege of Boston ended when George Washington ordered Americans to fortify Dorchester Heights with cannons — an important location that overlooked the Boston Harbor. Americans had to secretly fortify the area without the British being aware of their plans — a difficult task when working with loud, heavy materials.
To do this, Americans concealed the noisy sounds necessary to fortify the area by blasting off cannons from different areas around Boston. The British realized how strong the city of Boston had become after the fortification at Dorchester Heights and decided it would be best for all 11,000 troops to flee to Nova Scotia.
This was Washington’s first victory and a major win for the colonies, especially since it occurred in such an important American city.
Commemorated Still Today
Evacuation Day and St. Patrick’s day are jointly celebrated on March 17th, but that wasn’t always the case. The city first began celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in 1876, but it wasn’t until 1901 that Evacuation Day was dedicated as a holiday.
Today, Boston typically celebrates with a parade (held jointly as the St. Patrick’s Day Parade) and a politicians’ breakfast.
In 2010, the state legislature debated eliminating the holiday citing budgetary reasons (state workers typically get this as a paid holiday), but ultimately decided to keep the holiday on the calendar.
March 17th has served as an official holiday for the Boston area since 1901 and remembers the significance of the first victory for Americans in the Revolutionary War. Luckily, the holiday also coincides with St. Patrick’s Day, so all the Irish Bostonians have two celebrations — and likely the day off from work.