St Patrick's Day - Who? What? Where? When?

Posted by Madeline M on the 14th of March 2012 at 11:10:26

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St Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick's Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig) is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated internationally on 17th March. It commemorates Saint Patrick (the patron saint of Ireland) and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. It is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion (especially the Church of Ireland), the Eastern Orthodox Church and Lutheran Church. Saint Patrick's Day was made an official feast day in the early 17th Century and has gradually become a secular celebration of Irish culture in general.
The day is generally characterised by the attendance of church services, wearing of green attire (especially shamrocks), and the lifting of Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol, which is often prohibited during the rest of the season.

St. Patrick's Day musiciansIn 1903, Saint Patrick's Day became an official public holiday in Ireland. The first Saint Patrick's Day parade held in the Irish Free State was held in Dublin in 1931
In the mid-1990s the government of the Republic of Ireland began a campaign to use Saint Patrick's Day to showcase Ireland and its culture and in November 1995 the St Patrick’s Festival was established.
As the one national holiday that is celebrated in more countries around the world than any other, St. Patrick’s Day is the day when everyone wants to be Irish.

It aims 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.
– Provide the opportunity and motivation for people of Irish descent, (and those who sometimes wish they were Irish) to attend and join in the imaginative and expressive celebrations.
– Project, internationally, an accurate image of Ireland as a creative, professional and sophisticated country with wide appeal, as we approach the new millennium.

St Patricks festivalThe first Saint Patrick's Festival was held on 17 March 1996. In 1997, it became a three-day event, and by 2000 it was a four-day event. By 2006, the festival was five days long; more than 675,000 people attended the 2009 parade. Overall 2009's five day festival saw close to 1 million visitors, who took part in festivities that included concerts, outdoor theatre performances, and fireworks ( Skyfest forms the centrepiece of the festival).

Preparation for the first St Patrick’s Festival took only 5 months, but with the growth of the Festival, it now takes 18 months to plan for Ireland’s biggest annual celebration.

As well as Dublin, many other cities, towns, and villages in Ireland hold their own parades and festivals, including Cork, Belfast, Derry, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, and Waterford.

The biggest celebrations outside Dublin are in Downpatrick, County Down, where Saint Patrick is rumoured to be buried. In 2004, according to Down District Council, the week-long St. Patrick's Festival had more than 2,000 participants and 82 floats, bands and performers; and was watched by more than 30,000 people.
The shortest St Patrick's Day parade in the world takes place in Dripsey, Cork. The parade lasts just 100 yards and travels between the village's two pubs.


St Patrick

St PatrickLittle is known of Patrick's early life, though it is known that he was born in Roman Britain in the 4th Century into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father and grandfather were deacons in the Church. At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken captive to Ireland as a slave. It is believed he was held somewhere on the west coast of Ireland, possibly Mayo, but the exact location is unknown. According to his Confession, he was told by God in a dream to flee from captivity to the coast, where he would board a ship and return to Britain. Upon returning, he quickly joined the Church in Auxerre in Gaul and studied to be a priest.

In 432, he again said that he was called back to Ireland, although now as a bishop, to Christianise the Irish from their native polytheism. Irish folklore tells that one of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish people. After nearly 30 years of evangelism, he died on 17th March 461 and according to tradition was buried at Downpatrick. Although there were other more successful missions to Ireland from Rome, Patrick endured as the principal champion of Irish Christianity and is held in esteem in the Roman Catholicism in Ireland/ Irish Church.

Around the World

Saint Patrick's Day in the United States
USA St Patricks


St. Patrick's Day, although not a legal holiday anywhere in the United States, is nonetheless widely recognized and celebrated throughout the country. It is primarily celebrated as a celebration of Irish and Irish American culture; celebrations include prominent displays of the color green, feasting, copious consumption of alcohol, religious observances, and numerous parades. The holiday has been celebrated on the North American continent since the late 18th Century, prior to the American Revolution.

In Argentina


In Argentina, and especially in Buenos Aires, all-night long parties are celebrated in designated streets, since the weather is comfortably warm in March. People dance and drink only beer throughout the night, until seven or eight in the morning, and although the tradition of mocking those who do not wear green does not exist, many people wear something green. In Buenos Aires, the party is held in the downtown street of Reconquista, where there are several Irish pubs. In 2006, there were 50,000 people in this street and the pubs nearby.

In Japan
Japan St Patricks


Saint Patrick's Parades are now held in nine locations across Japan. The first parade, in Tokyo, was organised by The Irish Network Japan (INJ) in 1992. Nowadays parades and other events related to Saint Patrick's Day spread across almost the entire month of March.



In Montserrat

The tiny island of Montserrat, known as "Emerald Island of the Caribbean" because of its founding by Irish refugees from Saint Kitts and Nevis, is the only place in the world apart from Ireland and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador where St Patrick's Day is a public holiday. The holiday commemorates a failed slave uprising that occurred on 17 March 1768.



Learn some more fun facts about St. Patrick's Day with our blog!

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