St Patrick’s Day
Every year on the 17th March people around the world celebrate St Patrick’s Day. St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and is credited with popularising Christianity in Ireland in the 5th Century.
According to writings attributed to him (including the autobiography Confessio) he was originally called Maewyn, he was British and born into a Romanized family. He was kidnapped and taken into slavery to Ireland before escaping and fleeing the country to Britain and perhaps Gaul (France). After these trials he received the religious calling to move back to Ireland and preach the Gospel.
According to legend St Patrick drove the snakes of Ireland into the sea to their extinction and he used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. The Feast Day was not widely celebrated until the 18th century when Irish immigrants in America used the date to connect with their roots. In 1737 the first St Patrick’s Day parade was held in Boston. This may well have been the beginning of the secularisation of the Saint’s Day. At some point during the secularisation process the colour associated with the saint, blue, was replaced with green to the extent that Chicago’s river has been dyed green since 1962.
In 1903 the day became a Public Holiday in Ireland and today the Catholic Church has given the country special dispensation to forego Lent for the day in order to be able to celebrate. Ireland itself only formalised St Patrick’s Day as the festival we know 21 years ago, but they have been making up for it ever since and now the festival is four days of fun and frivolity.
It isn’t just Ireland and America where you can celebrate, many cities and major towns around the world have an Irish theme bar and they all indulge, while some cities also have parades and festivals. Some of these are linked below. Remember though, whatever you do, never refer to the day as Patty’s Day. This name just does not exist and you might just upset the Irish. If you want to be Irish for the day use Patrick, Pat or Paddy.
If you celebrate the day please send us photos of the events and yourself wearing green and we will create a special gallery and share the photos on Facebook and Twitter.