Saint Patrick's day is a religious holiday celebrated on March 17 internationally. It is named after St. Patrick who is the most well-known and popular patron saint of Ireland. It is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Newfoundland, Northern Ireland, and Montserrat, but it is also widely celebrated by places in the Irish diaspora, like Great Britain, the United States, Argentina, and Canada.
Saint Patrick's Day is a holiday celebrated the world over by folks who are Irish and others who just want to be Irish for a day! The holiday is themed around all things Irish and the color green. Many people celebrate by wearing green, eating Irish food, and drinking Irish beverages such as Guinness, Irish whiskey or Irish Cream and attending parades.
Wearing green is a holiday tradition and many people don green ribbons and shamrocks during the celebrations. St. Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Christian Irish, and the wearing and displaying of shamrocks and shamrock-inspired designs have become a big part of the day.
Saint Patrick's Day is also a Christian festival celebrated in the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland, and some other denominations. Many times, the holiday falls within the time of Lent, and some churches will grant a release from the no-meat restriction if St. Patrick’s Day is on a Friday or Sunday. In some churches, when March 17th falls on a Sunday, church calendars move Saint Patrick's Day to the following Monday. When the 17th falls during Holy Week, the observance will be moved to the next available date or before holy week. The public holiday in Ireland occurs on the 17 of March.
Who Was Patrick?
St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Wales around AD 385. His given name was Maewyn and he almost didn’t get the bishop position of Ireland because he lacked the required scholarship.
Until the age of 16, St. Patrick considered himself a pagan and that age, he was sold into slavery by a group of Irish marauders that raided his village. It was during his captivity that he became closer to God.
Patrick escaped slavery after six years and then went to Gaul where he studied in a monastery under St. Germain, the bishop of Auxerre for a period of 12 years. It was during his training that he became aware of his calling to convert pagan to Christianity.
Patrick desired to return to Ireland and to convert native pagans to Christianity. But once he returned, his superiors appointed St. Palladius as bishop. Luckily for Patrick, Palludius transferred to Scotland and Patrick was appointed as the second bishop to Ireland.
Upon becoming bishop, Patrick was very successful at winning converts, which upset the Celtic Druids. Patrick was arrested many times, but escaped each and every time. He continued to travel throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country. He also set up schools and churches which would aid his efforts to covert the Irish country to Christianity.
His mission in Ireland lasted for thirty years. After that time, Patrick retired to County Down. He died on March 17 in AD 461. The day has been commemorated as St. Patrick’s Day ever since.
History in Ireland
In the past, Saint Patrick's Day was celebrated as a religious holiday and became a public holiday in 1903. The first St. Patrick's Day parade held in Ireland was held in Dublin in 1931 and although secular celebrations now exist, the holiday remains a religious observance in Ireland, for both the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic Church.
In the mid-1990s, the Irish government began a campaign to use Saint Patrick's Day to showcase Ireland and its culture. The government set up a group called St. Patrick's Festival, with the aim to project an accurate image of Ireland as a creative, professional and sophisticated country with wide appeal. They wanted to offer a national festival that ranks amongst all of the greatest celebrations in the world and promote excitement throughout Ireland via innovation, creativity, grassroots involvement, and marketing activity.