Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and Saint Patrick’s Day marks the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. With that being said, of course, Ireland celebrates this holiday. It is considered a public holiday there, and it is worth noting that it is celebrated in more countries in the world than any other national celebration. The date of Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17th, marks the death of Saint Patrick, who was a Christian missionary that converted the Irish people to Christianity. It has been officially considered a public holiday in Ireland since 1903.
The Beginnings Of St Patrick’s Day
The Irish were celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day as a national day as early as the ninth century. Back then, he was not considered the patron of Ireland, but in time that also changed. In the early 16th century, this day was finally officially placed on the Catholic Calendar. Thereby it became a holy day for all Roman Catholics that were living in Ireland. Since it is a Catholic holiday, there are times when Saint Patrick’s Day is not celebrated on March 17th due to it falling during Holy Week. It most recently happened in 1940 and 2008, but will not happen again until 2160. When that happens, however, the date of the celebration is moved to a different day.
Despite being a holy day for Catholics for a long time, it wasn’t until 1903 that St Patrick’s Day became an official holiday. The Bank Holiday Act was introduced to the United Kingdom Parliament then which made it official. That was also the year that the first St Patrick’s Day parade was held. Since then, parades have become a custom on this day throughout Ireland. The first time the state officially sponsored a St Patrick’s Day parade was in 1931, and it happened in Dublin.
St Patrick’s Festival
Throughout the 1990s, the Irish government started using St Patrick’s Day as a way of showcasing Ireland and its culture. A group called St Patrick’s Festival was set up by the government, and it had several goals that would help promote Irish culture. Some of those goals were to create a national festival that would rival the biggest festivals in the world and to create supportive energy all over Ireland that would awaken a feeling of national pride. They also needed to present Ireland as a country that was creative and sophisticated and had appeal for everyone. That marked the beginning of St Patrick’s Festival, the first of which was held in 1996.
Every year this festival grew bigger. It started as a one-day event, but by 2006 it lasted five days. Various activities are organized at St Patrick’s Festival, such as concerts, fireworks, and theatre performances. Millions of people show up to enjoy the St Patrick’s Festival.
Special attention was given to the fireworks from 2006 to 2012, they were called the Skyfest, and were considered to be particularly impressive. The majority of the celebration happens in Dublin. However, other cities organize their parades, including Belfast, Cork, Galway, and Waterford, among others.
Criticism Of St Patrick’s Day
Since the start of St Patrick’s Festival, the emphasis of the celebration switched from a more religious traditional one to a celebration that was all about “being Irish.” That was a deliberate decision, albeit not one that was met with praise from everyone. The leaders of the Catholic Church weren’t happy with this, and they have openly voiced their dislike of the way St Patrick’s Day is more and more separated from its religious roots.
They also criticized large amounts of alcohol consumption that happen on St Patrick’s Day all over Ireland. They believe that the holiday has become too commercialized, and it perpetuates negative stereotypes about Irish people. They think that the holiday should be fun, but also keep the religious aspect that has been lost throughout the years.