Saint Patrick’s Day is a holiday celebrated throughout the world. It is a cultural and religious celebration involving parades and festivals of various kinds.
People all over the world normally dress in layers of green. Many Christians attend church services and any Lenten Restrictions on eating or drinking alcohol are typically lifted on this day.
Saint Patrick is the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland. To this day, much of his life remains a mystery. Irish folklore says that Saint Patrick often used the Shamrock to explain the doctrine of the Trinity in order to spread and teach Christian values throughout Ireland. He died on March 17, 461. On this day, we celebrate his life all throughout the world.
Saint Patrick’s Day officially became a public holiday in 1903. It wasn’t until the mid 1990’s when the government of Ireland began to use Saint Patrick’s Day as a way to promote Irish culture. They wanted to offer a festival that was among the greatest celebrations in the world. They also wanted to motivate people of Irish decent (and those who aren’t) to join in on these expressive celebrations. The annual Saint Patrick’s Festival was first held in in Dublin in 1996. By 2006, it became a 5-day long festival with close to 1 million visitors! The festival includes concerts, performances, and fireworks. There are other cities that hold festivals as well. Downpatrick, the city where Saint Patrick is rumored to be buried holds a week long festival with 2,000 participants, floats, bands, and performers.
Although, it is not a national holiday here in the United States, you will certainly run into many people wearing green or if you’re lucky you might even catch a leprechaun! It is common to feast and drink alcohol. Numerous parades are held all over the country, the largest for this country is in New York City. In Chicago they go all out and they actually dye the Chicago river green! Can you imagine how much dye is used for that? People roam the streets from early on in the day until late at night celebrating this fun holiday.
Montreal, a city whose flag includes a shamrock, holds a parade each year for Saint Patrick’s Day. There is also a three day festival held in Manitoba. Saint Patrick’s Day is also really big in Toronto. The hockey team, The Toronto Maple Leafs was formally known as the Toronto St. Patrick’s and they used to wear green jerseys!
In Britain, the largest parade is held in Birmingham with a route that’s longer than two miles (3 km). It is known as the third largest Saint Patrick’s Day in the world, after Dublin and New York. Queen Elizabeth used to give bowls of shamrocks flown in from Ireland to members of the Irish Guards which is a regiment of the British Army consisting primarily of soldiers from Ireland. These soldiers still wear the shamrock on this day.
If parades are just “not your thing”, there are other ways to celebrate this fun holiday. The first thing you should do is wear green! You can wear a t-shirt with an expression such as “Kiss me, I’m Irish” or for those professionals maybe you can wear a green collared shirt. Food is always essential for all celebrations, so why not go all out and eat a traditional Irish meal. Potatoes are always a staple of Irish culture and cabbage with lamb stew is a tasty Irish dish. Music also plays a very big part of Irish culture. So, go ahead and play some classic Irish tunes.
No matter where you are in the world, chances are you are celebrating this holiday one way or another. Just remember to be safe and enjoy the holiday!