St. Patrick – the Apostle of Ireland and one of the most widely known figures in Christianity.
And yet, do you know why the Saint’s feast day has become not only a holy day in the Catholic Church but has also turned into a worldwide festival celebrating the Irish culture? And before you pack your bags for this once-in-a-lifetime celebration or long-term relocation to Ireland, know the facts!
When is St. Patrick’s Day?
St. Patrick’s day is just around the corner as it falls on 17th March every year. The celebration day has been a public holiday in Ireland since 1903 and it is celebrated worldwide – even those without connections to Ireland turn out to enjoy it, indulging in Guinness or ‘’drowning the shamrock’’ while being all dressed up in green. In fact, did you know that St. Patrick’s Day is the one national holiday that is celebrated in more countries around the world than any other?
What happens on St. Patrick’s Day?
As mentioned above, celebrations take place worldwide with the biggest parades in Dublin, New York and Birmingham. This year, the bright-green parade in Dublin will start at 11am at Parnell Square on 17 March. The procession will go around the city centre featuring a flurry of costumes, music and, of course, countless shamrocks.
A lot of enthusiasts carry on the popular Irish tradition called ‘drowning the shamrock’. It involves putting a shamrock at the bottom of a cup and filling it up with whiskey or beer. The wet shamrock is then either drunk or tossed over the shoulder for good luck.
A week’s worth of celebrating the Irish culture, St. Patrick’s Day also aims to popularise the Irish Gaelic language. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the word Sláinte is probably one of the most used words on St. Patrick’s Day. What it means? Cheers, of course! But how do you think one of the most popular Irish toasts on St. Paddy’s day will sound like in Gaelic: ‘’May the roof above us never fall in, and may we friends beneath it never fall out’’? We don’t know either, so why don’t you find out yourself when you visit Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day?
Who is St. Patrick and why is his feast day widely celebrated?
St. Patrick is believed to be one of the Christian missionaries in Ireland who helped convert the country into Christianity.
The patron was born in around 385 AD but his exact birthplace is unknown. He was captured by Irish raiders at the age of 16 and taken to Ireland to work as a herdsman. He fled the country after six years of captivity and became a Christian priest. Afterwards, he returned to Ireland and spent the next 30 years establishing schools, churches and monasteries. Later, he became a bishop, succeeding St. Palladius who was the first bishop of Ireland. St. Patrick is said to have died on 17 March in the year 461.
Following his death,the mythology surrounding his life became an essential feature of the Irish culture. Perhaps, one of the most well known legends is that St. Patrick explained the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) using the three leaves of the shamrock. Thanks to that, the Irish clover has become one of the country’s symbols.
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on the anniversary of the Saint’s death.The Irish have celebrated this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 years, however the first parade took place not in Ireland, but in the United States! In fact, it wasn’t until 1995 that the Irish government started organising the annual festival held to honour St. Patrick’s Day. Boosting tourism and showcasing the Irish culture to the rest of the world, the St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin is considered to attract up to 1 million people to the Irish capital for a day of parades, fireworks shows, dances and downing the numerous pints in the local pub. Interestingly, pubs had to remain closed on St. Patrick’s Day up until the 70s. Now that the Irish government has lifted the ban, visitors and locals alike can celebrate the worldwide national holiday in style while chanting ‘Éirinn go Brách!’.
St. Patrick’s Day is another proof that all roads lead to Ireland! You need some more convincing? Check out our article 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Ireland and prove us wrong!